Four of the six Columbia High wrestlers who took part in the nine-team Columbia Gorge Invitational Tournament in Stevenson on Jan. 19 recorded top-five finishes.
Kevin Kreps grappled his way to third place at 145 pounds, Seth Bell placed third in the 171-pound weight class, Jon Belvin finished fourth among 125-pounders and Jim Price took fifth in the 160 bracket.
"I thought the kids wrestled some of their best matches of the season," Bruins Coach Rich Polkinghorn noted.
Kreps, who went 3-1 in the tournament to raise his season record to 20-8 with seven pins, defeated David Curtiss of Hockinson, 8-3, in the consolation match for third place.
The junior started his day with an 11-3 decision over Curtiss, lost by pin in the second round of wrestling, then rebounded with a 10-4 decision in the consolation bracket.
"Kevin is wrestling with a lot of confidence and aggressiveness," Polkinghorn said of Kreps, who leads the CHS varsity in scoring with 86 points.
Bell, second in team scoring with 81 points, improved to 17-8 overall with seven pins by going 3-1 at Stevenson. Bell claimed third place in his weight class with a 10-3 decision in the consolation final, after winning his first "wrestle-back" match with a pin in 49 seconds.
It was a strong finish to a day that Bell began with a 68-second pin of Marquel Neal of Hood River, Ore. In the semifinals, however, Bell fell to eventual weight class champion and tournament MVP Kyle Huss of Camas.
Bell's performance drew praise from his coach.
"It was the first time Seth looked like he was back to his old self after recovering from chicken pox," Polkinghorn said. "He's peaking at the right time--right in time for districts."
Belvin went 2-2 in the tournament to make his record 16-15 with a team-leading 11 pins. He opened with a pin of Hockinson's Jonathon Tadema in 1:58, avenging an early-season loss, and stayed alive by pinning Nate Sharp of Stevenson in a wrestle-back match.
"It was great for Jon to get that win back," said Polkinghorn.
Belvin's second win by pin sent him to the consolation final, where he faced and lost a hard-fought decision to Tadema, 8-6.
Price (8-16 this season with five pins) earned his fifth-place finish by pinning Hood River's Jordan Thomas in the second period of their consolation match.
"Jim has finally figured out a takedown move that will work most effectively for him," Polkinghorn noted and added, "He's hitting his stride at the right time."
Columbia High varsity wrestlers are at the SWW 1A Trico Division Championships this Saturday at La Center High School. The meet is the qualifier for next weekend's Westside Regional Tournament in Castle Rock, from which the top six individuals in each weight class will advance to the Feb. 15-16 state tournament in Tacoma.