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Zuriaga, Lowry among returning state placers for the Cougars in the 2017-18 season

HERALD PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - The Cougar's Jake Lowry returns to the team after taking first place at districts last year to lead a hungry Canby team back to the state championship tournament. The Canby Cougars wrestling program is looking to continue the trend of sending wrestlers to the state tournament this year. The Cougars took second place in the district meet last year, and sent two wrestlers to state, and both are returning this season.

Jonathan Zuriaga (106) and last year's district champion Jake Lowry both saw action in the state tournament. Zuriaga returns in the weight class he saw his success at last year, while Lowry moves up in weight to 152 pounds. Lowry won the district tournament last year at 145 pounds.

Alongside the two state competitors come a whole host of returning varsity athletes, including six district finalists and a plethora of freshmen.

"This team returns 13 varsity wrestlers from 2016-17 including Johnathan Zuriaga, Tanner Sauer, Christian Kelly, K'den McMullin, Jordan Petersen, Harrison Kinney, Josh Rowden, Jake Lowry, Logan Doman, Sam Shuey, Stephen Rue, Michael Clark, and Kyler Boyd," head coach Jeremy Ensrud said. "This year's team is joined by 20 freshmen ready to prove themselves."

In the super competitive Three Rivers League, the Cougars will face top flight competition. Notably, the Newberg Tigers which fielded several top finishers in the state tournament.

"We have a fairly balanced team," Ensrud said. "It's hard to predict how we will end up in the league without seeing any of the other teams lineups, but I imagine we will finish 2nd or 3rd. Newberg has a very strong team, and West Linn will be competitive with us. Last year we finished second to Newberg. Jake Lowry (152) finished first in league and fourth in state last year. Jonathan Zuriaga (106) finished second in league last year and fifth in state. We only graduated two seniors from last year's team, and we have eight returning district placers."

The key to competing against these teams and the rest of the league is to get the newer athletes ready for the competition, according to Ensrud.

"Our key to being successful this year will be getting our younger wrestlers up to speed and competitive," Ensrud said. "Having a deep and solid lineup will help us score points at the league tournament."

The Cougars have their next meet at Tualatin High School on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.

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