Newberg's Zach Keinonen pinned Cleveland's William Kingman in 45 seconds Friday in the 6A tournament. (Photo by Jon Olson)
Newberg's Zach Keinonen pinned Cleveland's William Kingman in 45 seconds Friday in the 6A tournament. (Photo by Jon Olson)

Don't get Neil Russo wrong. The Newberg wrestling coach has drawn much satisfaction from watching the decorated career of senior Zach Keinonen from his matside seat.

Russo admits, though, that he would prefer a little less drama from the three-time 6A champion, who has a penchant for grinding out low-scoring, narrow wins.

“I think, and he would agree, that if he could avoid those situations, even better,” Russo said. “Better for everyone. Better for him, better for me, better for his family, better for our fans.

“There's nothing flashy about what Zach does. But Zach is what he is, and I would take that any day. Zach is a winner. He's very good in those situations.”

Keinonen's conservative, selective style may create some anxious moments, but he gets results. On Friday, the second-seeded Keinonen (48-4) advanced to the 138-pound quarterfinals of the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 6A tournament at Veterans Memorial Coliseum by pinning Cleveland junior William Kingman in 45 seconds.

“I just like ties and control. That's pretty much it,” Keinonen said. “Coach jokes about opening up sometimes. He gives me little nudges about it. But it is what it is. I'll wrestle how I wrestle.”

Keinonen – who has won titles at 113, 126 and 132 – can become the fourth four-time state champion in Newberg's storied program on Saturday. To do it, though, he may have to get past top-seeded West Linn junior Oscar Doces, last year's champion at 126.

Keinonen has a history with Doces. Last season, he pinned Doces in the Northwest Duals but lost to him in overtime at the Reser's Tournament of Champions. This season, Doces defeated Keinonen 6-4 in overtime in the 138-pound final at Reser's.

“It was tough. It was a close match,” Keinonen said. “He's very strong. He has good position.”

Russo said that Keinonen failed to convert on early scoring opportunities in the recent loss to Doces at Reser's.

“It was a good opportunity go to back and look at some things, put an emphasis on some things, that need to improve. That's how Zach's looking at it,” Russo said.

In Saturday's quarterfinals, Keinonen will face seventh-seeded Mountainside freshman Ethan Stock. Doces (30-3) will meet eighth-seeded Newberg senior Jacob Smith, the only Oregon wrestler to defeat Doces this season.

Heading into the final day of his high school career, Keinonen has his eyes fixed on the task at hand.

“It would mean a lot to win my fourth state title, but my main focus is just winning the one that I have right now,” he said. “Not really thinking about the past, just getting into it like it's another state tournament.”

Russo expects that Keinonen will be ready for the moment.

“I don't know that he feels pressure,” Russo said. “Zach is a very grounded young man. I know for a fact that he's not going in there thinking, 'This is my chance for a fourth title.' Every opportunity is new, and nobody has ever taken away what happened in the last three years. This year stands on its own.”

This year has been special for Keinonen in that his freshman brother – Sawyer, the No. 2 seed at 120 – has joined the team. Their father Shawn, a Newberg assistant coach and McMinnville's former head coach, was a state runner-up for the Tigers in 1996.

Sawyer earned a spot in the quarterfinals with a second-round pin of West Linn junior Nate Gusdorf.

“He's a little more dynamic than Zach,” Russo said. “He's just excited to be participating. I've been dragging him around with us for a couple years. He's been watching from the sidelines. It's really cool to have the two of them together for one year.”

Zach's cousin, Canby junior James Keinonen, advanced to the semifinals of the 5A tournament as the No. 2 seed at 175. James' father, Matt, won a state title at Newberg in Russo's first season as coach in 1999.

Zach Keinonen is looking to lead Newberg back to the top of 6A after the Tigers' had their two-year reign interrupted by West Linn last year. Heading into Saturday, Newberg leads the team scoring with 101 points and West Linn is second at 77.5. The Tigers and Lions have the most quarterfinalists with 12 and nine, respectively.

Newberg senior Isaac Hampton, the No. 1 seed at 126, is going for his third state championship. He advanced Friday with two pins.

West Linn's three reigning state champions – Doces and seniors Henry Dillingham (157) and Charles Spinning (165), all top seeds this year – cruised into the quarterfinals.

All of the top two seeds in 6A moved on to the quarterfinals Friday.


Thurston, last year's runner-up, took a first-day lead with 121 points. The Colts lead Dallas (110.5), Canby (87) and reigning champion Redmond (82.5).

The Colts qualified a tournament-high nine wrestlers for the semifinals. Dallas has eight and Canby and Redmond have six apiece.

Thurston senior Kanoe Kelly (113), Mountain View seniors Scout Santos (132) and Jackson Potts (175) and Hillsboro senior Preston Echeverria (190) all advanced to the semifinals as they bid for repeat titles. Kelly, seeded fifth, earned his spot with an 8-4 quarterfinal win over the No. 3 seed, Canby freshman Jacob Young.

Canby junior Jackson Doman (215) and Silverton junior Brash Henderson (285), the only unbeaten wrestlers in 5A, kept their perfect records intact. Doman improved to 43-0 with two pins and Henderson hiked his record to 22-0 with a pin and a major decision.

Last year, Doman lost 4-2 in the 185-pound quarterfinals to the eventual champion, Echeverria, and settled for sixth place by forfeit because he opted not to compete on a Sunday. It has helped spur him this season.

“I just knew that I needed to put more work into the room,” said the 6-foot-5 Doman, an all-league tight end/receiver in football. “A lot of offseason work. I've been lifting hard, training as much as I can off of football. It's just been paying off in the matches.

“I'm just using more of my leverage this year. Working my speed. I'm wrestling 215, so a little bit bigger guys, so I just work on my offense.”

Any pressure from being the top seed?

“No. I'm ranked No. 1, I'm undefeated, and I'm going to keep it that way,” Doman said.

Canby coach Brandon Harms praised Doman's approach to the season.

“He's got all the talent in the world, 6-5, super athlete,” Harms said. “But he doesn't just rest on that. He works his butt off. He's just executed all year. … He stuck by his faith last year. He would've been third. We know it. He really came out this year with a goal in mind that he's going to win state.”

Henderson pushed to get back to the Coliseum after finishing as the 220 runner-up last year, losing by first-round pin in the final to Crater's Hayden Walters, a four-time champion.

“I killed myself with my mentality,” Henderson said of facing Walters. “I already told myself before the match that I was going to lose, I had no chance. I changed my mindset this year. I put in the hours, put in the work. I don't give up. If I get down, it doesn't matter.”

Henderson, voted as the top offensive lineman in Mid-Willamette Conference football, is light for a heavyweight at 231 pounds. He makes up for it with a fast tempo.

“I never really let myself get tired,” Henderson said. “I'm pushing past my limits. Push the pace in my matches, tire them out.”

The No. 1 seeds in 5A all moved on to the semifinals, but four No. 2 seeds fell in the quarterfinals: Thurston junior Mason Hakki (113) pinned Dallas sophomore Carsen Atterbury; Thurston sophomore Jaxon Harada (126) beat Canby senior Craig Williams 11-9; Crater sophomore Jaxon Godley (144) pinned Canby junior Matthew Young; and Lebanon junior Isaac Jordan (285) won 12-3 over Redmond senior Ashton Fields.

6A/5A girls

Thurston, the state champion in 2020 and runner-up the last two years, holds the lead after one day. The Colts scored 52 points to lead North Salem (33), Redmond (32) and Forest Grove (31.5).

With Thurston's boys also in the lead, the Colts are zeroing in on dual titles after both teams finished second last year.

“That's been my goal,” Thurston coach Mike Simons said. “We've been talking about it for three or four years. The first practice of the year, that's our goal.

“We're one big team. Obviously, there's a girls and a boys division, but we're just Thurston. We practice together, we train together, we root for each other.”

Thurston has a tournament-high five semifinalists, ahead of North Salem, Redmond, Forest Grove, North Medford, Dallas and McNary, all with three.

“We have to put probably six on the podium to win it,” Simons said. “We lost a couple matches that I didn't think we would lose. We've got to win on the back side.”

Eight wrestlers going for repeat titles qualified for the semifinals: North Medford sophomore Skyler Hall (105), Dallas junior Polly Olliff (110), North Salem senior Mariko Sonis (120), Forest Grove junior Kailea Takahashi (130), West Salem senior Reese Lawson (145), Redmond junior MacKenzie Shearon (155), Wilsonville senior Jasmine Brown (170) and McNary senior Ali Martinez (190).

All of the No. 1 seeds also made it through.

Cleveland junior Isabel Herring, the top seed at 170, is back in the semifinals, where last year she lost by first-round pin to West Linn's Destiny Rodriguez, a four-time champion. Herring said she has drawn motivation from Rodriguez and former Cleveland teammate Haley Vann, a three-time state champion.

“A lot more than a lot of people I know, I had really strong role models for women's wrestling,” Herring said. “I had Destiny, of course, in my weight, who I knew a little bit more intimately because she was best friends with Haley. Both of them were super inspirational.”

Herring said her season “started off rocky” due to a broken rib she suffered the day before the team's first competition, and her training was disrupted by a district teachers' strike. But she has posted a 37-3 record despite being unable to meet the 155 weight certification.

“I think despite all the various roadblocks that I've had, I'm doing pretty good for the hand I was dealt.” she said.