NKN state champ returns to the mat

Also competing, in the 2A/1A brackets, was the Neah-Kah-Nie Pirates, who were short on numbers but certainly not talent.

Max Kirkendall
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Head coach Chris Bennett had just six wrestlers competing at the Oregon Classic and as a result, they were unable to really compete at the team level.

“We have had many of our wrestlers quit throughout the season, which has really hurt our numbers as a team,” Bennett said. “This not only makes it difficult to compete effectively as a team in a dual meet, but also hurts our wrestlers that are still in the room that no longer have workout partners to practice with.”

The Pirates took a big blow when they lost experienced heavyweight wrestler Jett Johnston, who took fourth last year at state. Despite the loss, the Pirates did return state champion Tristan Bennett, who had been nursing an injury from football season.

Neah-Kah-Nie opened the tournament with an 18-12 victory over Myrtle Point in the first round of pool play. They then faced powerhouse Glide, who easily won 60-12 in round two. After a round three bye, the Pirates again fell to Heppner/Ione by a score of 57-18. In round five however, the Pirates pulled off a 36-12 victory over Colton to conclude their first day of action.

On day two, the Pirates were placed in the consolation bracket where they lost in the first match to district foe Knappa by a score of 54-30. Neah-Kah-Nie closed out the tournament with a 30-12 loss to North Lake.

Even though they won just two out of their six duels as a team, the Pirates had a number of impressive individual performances.

“Ecca Fry had a good weekend going 3-2 overall,” coach Bennett said. “Travis Bennett went 4-0 on the weekend and wrestled very well.”

The Bennett brothers were utterly dominant at the tournament, as Tristan joined Travis by going undefeated at 5-0 in the tournament. Travis had three pins in just 2:52 time, while Tristan recorded an impressive four pins in 1:19 time.

“It was nice to have Tristan back on the mat,” coach Bennett said. “Having him back in the wrestling room will really help our upper weights improve as we move closer to the district meet.”

Tillamook will wrestle at a District 1 tournement today, Jan. 23 at North Marion High School before hosting a duel meet next Tuesday. The Pirates will compete in the Special District 1 Northern per-district tournament on Jan. 24 at Sheridan high school this week.

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