By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
The quest for an appearance at the OSAA Wrestling State Championships begins Friday night for 19 Bruin wrestlers at the Far West League district meet at Siuslaw High School in Florence.
In order to qualify for the state tournament, a wrestler must place in the top three in their respective weight class.
On Friday evening, wrestling begins at 5 p.m. and the first and second rounds of the championship bracket and the first and second rounds of the consolation bracket will completed that night.
Because of the limited number of wrestlers in most of the weight classes, both consolation brackets and the first round of the championship bracket will be filled with mostly byes.
Most of the wrestling will take place Saturday, starting at noon.
The Bruins will be without the experience of senior Joel Mitts, who separated his shoulder in a match on Feb. 23, which turned out to be a season-ending injury.
Mitts took second at last year's district tournament and would have most likely returned to the state tournament, with a chance at placing at the big show.
Senior Willie Bennett was the lone Bruin to receive a No. 1 seen at the district tournament as he looks to take home the championship in the 140-pound weight class.
Bennett will receive byes in the first and second rounds and will face the winner of Chris Murphy of South Umpqua and Anthony Sexton of Siuslaw in the semifinals.
A trio of Bruins received the second seed in the tournament as Ray Mazyck (112 pounds), Denny Davis (171) and Mike Althof (215) all hope to make their way into the championship match.
All three wrestlers have first round byes and in the second round, Mazyck will wrestled Josh Pugh of Sutherlin, Davis will clash with Eddy Williams of Siuslaw and Althof will tangle with Brian Beesley of North Bend.
A pair of seniors, Tyler Drafahl (145) and Cody Miller (152), were seeded No. 3 in the tournament and will also have first round byes.
In the second round, Drafahl will take on Cameran Earle of Siuslaw while Miller will battle John Duman of Siuslaw.
Three more Bruins will try to make their way to the state tournament as the No. 4 seed at the district tournament.
Dustin Paradis (135) and Kyle Hover (171) will both receive byes into the semifinals while Cody Brooks (215) will take on Richard Farmer of South Umpqua to earn a semifinal bid.
In the 112-pound weight class, Aaron Miller has a tough draw as he has to face the No. 1 seed, Brian Bowers of South Umpqua, in his first match of the tournament in the second round.
At 119 pounds, Ian Mjelde will wrestle No. 3 seed Joe Baynes of South Umpqua in the second round.
In the 125-pound division, the Bruins' Erik Olsen will face No. 3 Jeb Schumacher of Sutherlin while teammate Dan Demerjian will take on the winner of No. 1 seed Derek Findlay of Douglas and Mark Aguirre of Sutherlin.
Brock Bristow will battle with No. 4 seed Jeff Pugh of Sutherlin in the second round at 130 pounds while Daniel Grubb will have to tangle with No. 1 seed Travis Hayter of South Umpqua in the 145-pound division.
At 160 pounds, Evan Peterson will brawl with No. 4 seed Daniel Jobe of Sutherlin while teammate Ron Hunt will tangle with No. 3 seed Adam Guffie of Sutherlin.
In the 189-pound weight class, Jesse Ashley will have to face No. 2 seed Clay Lent of South Umpqua while heavyweight Mike Klein will wrestle No. 3 seed Cameron Thrall in the second round.
Results from the first day of the district tournament will be printed in Saturday's edition of the Pilot.