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Prep Digest.

Byline: The Register-Guard

LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE: Two of the state's top wrestling teams will square off at Thurston High School in Springfield today when the Colts entertain Marshfield at 7 p.m.

Thurston is ranked fourth in the state as both a dual-meet and tournament team, while Marshfield is No. 8 in duals and 11th in tournaments.

The Colts feature a pair of Cadet Freestyle national champions in senior Mat Gardner at 103 pounds and junior Luke Hogle at 160 or 171 pounds.

Other top individuals for Thurston include Jon Walker at 112 or 119, Luke Barr at 152, Rob Weinhold at 160 or 171, Johnny Bowden at 189, Kyle Randall at 215 and heavyweight Steve Blatchley.

However, Thurston coach Gary Bowden is wary of the Pirates.

`Marshfield is an outstanding team. People don't realize how good they are,' he said. `We've gotten all the press this year, and I'm afraid my guys have been reading all their clippings, while they've been waiting since last year to knock us off.'

The Pirates have yet to be beaten this year. They are 3-0 in dual meets and captured first place in tournaments in Coquille, Fortuna (Calif.) and Myrtle Point.

Marshfield coach Wayne VanBurger gives the edge to the Colts in tonight's showdown.

`They've got two national champions in Gardner and Hogle, and it's tough to match up with those kids,' he said. `It will be a great dual meet. I think they've got the edge, but that's OK ... we won't give up.'

The top individuals for Marshfield include Aaron Heyer, the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state at 215, Tommy Wehe at 152, Nick Gerritson at 125 and Rafael Garcia at heavyweight.

TAFT SNAPS LONG LOSING STREAK: One of the longest losing streaks in prep basketball history came to an end last month.

The Taft girls basketball team defeated Elmira on Dec. 15 to halt a four-year skid that included 86 consecutive defeats. The Lincoln City squad last won a varsity game on Jan. 11, 1997, with a 52-26 victory over Willamina.

`We have two seniors out this year, and until our win against Elmira, those two kids had never won a varsity game in their entire careers,' said first-year coach Poeko Waiwaiole.

The Tigers weren't content with just one win, however. They promptly went on a three-game win streak with victories over Nestucca and Mazama.

Waiwaiole, who has been the coach at four other prep stops, knew what he was getting into when he arrived at Taft, but he never doubted the Tigers were capable of success.

`I came to Taft to be the girls coach, and I wouldn't have come here if I didn't think we could be a good team,' he said. `The girls have responded well to that belief.'

SWIM SHOWDOWN: Two of the Midwestern League's elite swim teams will do battle at River Road Pool on Thursday when North Eugene plays host to Sheldon at 4:15 p.m.

The Highlanders have one of the best sophomores in the state in Ben Malcolm, who currently owns the district's fastest times in the 100 backstroke, 200 IM, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly and 50, 100 and 500 freestyle.

Malcolm has plenty of help from teammates Kel Trebon, Chris White, David Bauer and Andrew Hampton. They will be challenged by Sheldon's outstanding quartet of Sean Saunders, Chris Roots, Matt Sprick and Adam Grudzien.

On the girls side, keep your eye on a pair of freshmen - Sheldon's Laura Fay and North's Sarah Boam - who are two of the top young swimmers in the league.

The Irish also have Stephanie Burton in the backstroke and both Jessica Murray and Angela Fults in the breaststroke, while the Highlanders counter with Kacie Hogan in the backstroke and 500 freestyle, Erin Postma in the 200 and 500 freestyle and sprinter Amanda Hoffman.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 8, 2002
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