Portland State wrestling off to a strong start

With a solid showing at the Pete Belcastro Open and a record of 2-1 in dual meet competition under its belt, the Portland State wrestling team has begun the year on a promising note.

Behind the wrestling of senior Jeremy Wilson, 8-0 this year at 184 pounds, the Vikings are rounding into shape for what will be a tough stretch of competition in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Vikings traveled to Ashland and Southern Oregon University on Nov. 18 for the Belcastro Open, registering six placing athletes in the non-team-scoring event. Wilson followed last year’s fourth place finish with a tournament victory, going 5-0 and defeating San Francisco State’s Mauricio Wright in the final match.

Juniors Quinn Collett and Randy Davidson both garnered third place finishes, in the 174 and 197-pound weight classes, respectively. Shawn Keinonen, a transfer from Clackamas Community College, placed fourth in the 165-pound division. Sophomore Casey Kotter and red-shirt freshman Danny Harless also notched fourth place finishes, at 125 and 149 respectively, to round out the Vikings’ placing athletes.

“Casey Kotter has done a great job at 125,” head coach Marlin Grahn said. “He’s been very tough and really done a great job for us. Shawn Keinonen stepped up and wrestled a great tournament. I think we did a great job as a team, we were very competitive, and I think we wrestled better in the early part of the season than we have the past couple of years.”

The tournament provided the Vikings a glimpse of Pac-10 Conference rivals Oregon and Oregon State as well as the chance to wrestle defending NAIA National Champion and perennial powerhouse Southern Oregon.

The Vikings then traveled to Corvallis on Nov. 23 for a series of dual meets against Oregon State, Central Washington and Simon Fraser. The Vikings came out flat against the OSU Beavers, suffering a 36-3 defeat to a team ranked by TheMat.com as the No. 2 squad in the PAC-10. Wilson provided the lone bright spot for the Vikings, finishing with three wins to run his season record to 8-0. Amateur Wrestling News ranks Wilson No. 10 in the nation at 184 pounds.

“We didn’t come out prepared to wrestle and basically stunk it up against OSU,” Grahn said. “For whatever reason we weren’t ready to go and that is something we’ll need to address before our next trip. I think our guys did a good job recovering from that loss and wrestling hard against Simon Fraser and Central Washington.”

The Vikings rebounded from the loss with decisive victories over CWU and Simon Fraser. Senior Stuart Eggertson wrestled well for the Vikings at 133 as well as sophomore Ryan Thomas at 157 pounds.

Grahn, in his 18th year at PSU, will be charged with the task of leading a young PSU team into a conference featuring balanced squads from Arizona State, Oregon State and Boise State. With seven wrestlers ranked by TheMat.com in the top 20 nationally, ASU will have its sights set on a PAC-10 record, and possibly a national title at the NCAA Division 1-A level.

The Vikings travel to Primm, Nevada for the Cliff Keen Invitational on Friday, Nov. 30.