Luke Nelson, wrestling

Seaside’s Luke Nelson receives his award for winning the 220-pound weight class in the 2020 Pac Rim tournament.

Coastal wrestling — or the entire state, for that matter — belongs in the hands of the Tillamook Cheesemakers.

Last year’s 4A state champions, the Cheesemakers racked up 272 points to win the 2020 Pacific Rim Armed Forces Tournament, held Jan. 10-11 at Seaside High School.

With its first Pac Rim team title since 1997, Tillamook had three individual champions, with two second-placers and two thirds.

In records that go back to 1990, the 272 points scored by the Cheesemakers was the most ever in the Pac Rim tournament, topping the 269 scored by Estacada in 206.

Scappoose was a distant second with 203.5 points.

Among the local schools, Ilwaco was sixth (120 points), followed by Warrenton (10th, 83.5), Seaside (13th, 71), Knappa (16th, 34) and Astoria (17th, 27.5).

“The tournament was very competitive this year,” said Warrenton coach Corey Conant, whose 3A wrestlers had to battle against the likes of 6A Tigard, 5A Scappoose, and the Cheesemakers.

“Most brackets featured preliminary matches due to large numbers,” he said. “We wrestled some close matches and learned a lot.”

The hometown wrestlers had most of their success in the upper weights.

Seaside senior Luke Nelson gave the host team an individual title at 220 pounds.

Nelson opened with a 10-2 major decision over Tillamook’s Jackson Contreras, then pinned his next three opponents: Raymond Helm of Scappoose (1:34), Yamhill-Carlton’s Dylan McInnis in the semifinals (4:53), and a 3:40 pin against Estacada’s Nico Winsor in the title match.

Nelson ran his season record to 15-1.

At 195 pounds, Warrenton’s Sam Irwin won his first four matches, which included an 11-9 sudden victory over Jose Evangelista Villa of White Salmon in the quarterfinals.

Irwin followed with a semifinal tie-breaker win, 6-4, against Yamhill-Carlton’s Mason Dailey.

In the championship, Neah-Kah-Nie’s Travis Bennett pinned Irwin in 3:19, only the fourth loss of the season for Irwin.

And at 285 pounds, Astoria’s Skylar Smith scored 21.5 of his team’s 27.5 points with a third place finish.

Smith suffered a semifinal loss to Cutter Sandstrom of Scappoose, but bounced back with consolation wins over Michael Rodda of Ilwaco (fall, 4:03), and a technical fall (4:29, 15-0) against Tillamook’s Perry Reeder in the third-place match.

Warrenton’s Nic Pior added a fourth place finish for the Warriors at 145. Teammate Austin Atwood wrestled seven matches and went 4-3 for sixth place at 120.

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