As the playoffs approach at Rainier Junior/Senior High School, the boys basketball and wrestling teams find themselves in prime position to compete in their respective state tournaments. The girls basketball team members find themselves on the outside looking in.
The Columbian boys are enjoying their first ever 8-0 start to league play. With a record of 14-7, ranked #15 in the state, as the regular season league champions, Rainier boys basketball would reach back to back state playoff appearances for the first time since they did in 2001 and 2002. This will also be their first league title since 2012.
An x-factor along this run for the Columbians is Senior guard Connor Rea. Rea averaging 20.6 points per game, has taken a lot of games over down the stretch.
“Our 8-0 start has been great, everyone has been playing well and we’re really starting to play our best basketball heading into playoff time," Rea said. "I don’t worry too much about stats, I just try to let the game come to me and everything else will fall into place. All in all, our team confidence is at an all time high, and we think we’ll be a tough out for anyone come playoff time.”
“This is my 3rd year at Rainier," Coach Logan Nelson said. "This would mean everything to us. We put in a lot of work daily.
2012 was the last time Rainier won league.
"We are on a mission to change that day and day out,” Nelson said.
The Rainier boys will win the Coastal Range League, and get the 8 seed going into the state tournament. This will result in them hosting a first round playoff game, and with a win sending them to Coos Bay, and the elite 8 for the first time in over a decade.
While the Lady Columbians have been plagued by off and on injuries all season, a recent strong display over #1 Clatskanie provides them with some hope. The addition of junior guard Reese Schimmel who’s back off of an ankle injury will provide Rainier with a spark as the league playoffs come around. As it stands, Rainier would have to win three league playoff games in one week to make the playoffs for the first time since 2018. Currently at #28 with a record of 6-16, they’re ranked 5th in league.
The Lady Columbians have a legitimate chance to finish 3rd in league. They’d have to beat Warrenton and Taft before facing 3rd ranked Willamina or #1 Clatskanie with a state berth on the line. A victory over one of those two highly ranked sides would be very hard to come by.
The Columbians have been dominant over the last decade in wrestling, and almost always have an athlete place on the state stage. As a team the Columbians are #10 in the state, and have a few wrestlers ranked in their own respective weight classes:
- Class 106 Freshman Hunter Hendricks, ranked #6
- Class 126 Sophomore Logan Chapman, ranked #5
- Class 145 Sophomore Gavin Fortelney, ranked #13.
- Class 152 Senior Brandon Isaacson, ranked #3, with a record of 20-3.
- Class 160 Senior David Katon, ranked #1, with a record of 20-5.
- Class 182 Junior Korbin Howell, ranked #4, with a record of 16-5. David Katon, placed 2nd at the state meet last season and Isaacson, 3rd.
With five wrestlers ranked in the top 5 or higher, the chances to bring home a state title is very high for the Columbians. Katon currently sits as the favorite, and for the other ranked wrestlers, they all look to be very confident, and not an easy individual to beat come state meet time.
Follow the Rainier High sports teams at osaa.org, here online, and in the Friday print editions of The Chief.