District champions


Cowboys qualify 23 for state, including 10 district champions

The Crook County Cowboys advanced a school-record 23 wrestlers to this weekend's state championship as the Cowboys totally dominated the Special District 2 wrestling tournament.by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Trayton Libolt attempts to turn teammate Johnny Avina onto his back in the championship round of the 113-pound weight class. Libolt went on to win the match 4-0. The Cowboys easily defended their district championship with 10 wrestlers earning district titles and six more finishing in second.

“I thought we performed well,” said Crook County Head Coach Jake Huffman. “The goal is always to improve on how we performed last year and I think we improved on both the team scores and on numbers getting to state.”
by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jason Williams throws Dyllan Reece of La Grande during the 285-pound championship match. Williams won by fall late in the first round of the match.

The Cowboys advanced 16 wrestlers to the championship finals and came away with 10 individual championships as they finished the tournament with a record 551.5 points.

La Grande was a distant second with 245 points, while Ridgeview finished third (224.5) and Ontario was fourth (166.5). Rounding out the scoring were McLoughlin (100), Madras (92), Baker (84), La Pine (81), and Sisters (4).

The Cowboys took control of the tournament early Friday as they advanced 21 wrestlers to the championship semifinals. The Cowboys had nearly a 100 point lead after the first day and had at least one wrestler in the semifinals in each of the 14 weight classes. In addition the Cowboys still had four wrestlers alive in the consolation bracket. Just three Crook County wrestlers were eliminated during the tournament’s opening round.

"It hurts you to see those kids who have worked so hard not be able to cash in on their opportunities,” said Huffman Friday night. “But it’s a district tournament and people are fighting hard. Hopefully they will have another crack at it next year and we still have four guys in the back that can still push their way through."

The Cowboys were even more dominant on Saturday. After advancing 16 wrestlers into the finals the remaining Cowboys all advanced to the scoring rounds of the consolation bracket.

By the time the championship round started Saturday night the only question left was how many district champions the Cowboys would crown.by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Kurt Mode works to earn a pin over Thorin Wilson of La Pine in the district semifinals. Mode was unable to pin Wilson, but did earn a technical fall. Mode took the district title at 120 pounds.

The championship round started at 152 pounds where Tyler Berger pinned McLoughlin’s Blake Yensen 3:02 into their match. It was the fourth consecutive district championship for Berger, who will be going for his fourth consecutive state championship next week.

“I was thinking about it just before I got on the podium,”Berger said. “It’s not state, but I was thinking about the process of what it takes to get to state and I was thinking back all the way to my freshman year and it’s a real good feeling.”

Berger added that he is already nervous for the state tournament and is excited about how the team is performing.

“I’m blown away by what we’ve done,” he said. “I’ve never been a part of a team that’s done something like this and I’m just excited to see how we’re going to do at state.”

Crook County continued to roll as Brendan Harkey won by technical fall over La Grande’s Preston Armstrong on a last-second near fall.by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Brendan Harkey pins La Pines Christopher Love in the first round of their semifinal match. Harkey went on to win the 160-pound weight class.

“I feel like we are completely dominating,”Harkey said after his win. “Now we just need to train hard this coming week and be ready for state.”

La Grande earned a measure of revenge at 170 pounds when Caleb Woodworth out-pointed Crook County’s Clark Woodward 7-4.

It was an all Crook County final at 182 where Gunnar Robirts took just 29 seconds to pin Aaron Swindle.

“I think district went pretty well for all of us,” Robirts said. “I want to win state this year because last year I got second.”

“My tournament went good besides the last match,”Swindle added. “I want to win one match at a time at state and I want to get into the finals and see how that goes with Gunnar.”

Then came one of just two finals where the Cowboys were not represented as Ridgeview’s Boomer Fleming pinned Ontario’s Juan Lopez to win at 195 pounds.

It was an all Crook County final again at 220 as Trevor Rasmussen took a narrow 2-1 victory over Curtis Crouch.

“It was really tough,” Rasmussen said. “He’s just got a really unique style and he’s such a powerful guy. I’m pleased with how I wrestled, but there’s always room for improvement."

“My team is my family,”Crouch said. “And either way if I win or lose against my teammate it’s for the best.”by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Curtis Crouch (left) and Trevor Rasmussen fight for control during the championship finals at 220 pounds. Rasmussen eventually won the match 2-1. Both wrestlers qualified for the state tournament.

Both wrestlers added that they plan on meeting each other in the finals at state.

“I think that Curtis and I can potentially be in the finals at state,” Rasmussen said. “We did phenomenal, but once again our goal is to break the state record for points scored, so we’ve still got a little bit of work to do this week.”

Heavyweight Jason Williams continued the Cowboys’ dominance, pinning La Grande’s Dyllan Reece late in the first round.

“I think I started off a little slow because of coming off of a break,” Williams said. “But I gained some momentum and feel like I finished really well. Now we need to all wrestle our hardest and get everybody on the podium. I want to repeat as champions as a team and as an individual.”

At 106 pounds, Ontario’s Francisco Barrera edged La Grande’s Cole Rohan 7-6.

Then at 113 pounds, two Cowboys met in the finals again as a pair of district champions from last season met each other. After an intense match, Trayton Libolt earned a 4-1 decision over Johnny Avina.

“We all competed well,”Libolt said. “We got a lot of kids in the semis, a ton of kids with the finals. Now we just need to keep on going and break the state scoring record. Oh and I want to avenge my loss from last year.”

Kurt Mode earned the next district championship for the Cowboys, scoring a technical fall over Taran Hardwick of La Grande.

“I think we’ve gotten a lot better since the season started,”Mode said. “I think we are ready for state. We’ve been training hard.”

Brent Bannon continued the Cowboys’ winning ways with a 4-3 decision over Jarred Dupont of Madras to take the 126 pound championship.

At 132 pounds, two more Cowboys met in the championship. In what was one of the biggest surprises of the event, Hayden Bates upset No. 1 seed Grayson Munn in one of the most intense matches of the tournament. After a scoreless first round Bates managed to get an escape in the second round, taking a narrow 1-0 lead into the final period. Munn tied the match with an escape early in the third period, then shot for a takedown. Instead, Bates countered and after a lengthy scramble came out on top. Munn earned another escape and then in the last seconds tried desperately to get a take down for the win. Once again Bates countered, winning the match 5-2.

“I think we are right on track to break some records at state," Bates said. “He’s been beating me most of the time this year but I felt pretty confident coming into this one. I felt like I knew what I had to do and I came out with a win, but I love Grayson. Now it’s me and Grayson in the finals. I think we can do it all the way.”

At 138 pounds, Ryan Middleton of La Grande outpointed Crook County’s Ryder Shinkle 10-9 in another hard-fought match. Shinkle, who was down 5-9 after the second period, staged a furious rally in the final frame, but came up just short when an apparent takedown was disallowed because the wrestlers were out of bounds.

The evening closed out with one final Crook County championship as Colbran Meeker pinned McLoughlin’s Jeffrey Jones midway through the second round of their 145-pound match.

“I think the most important thing was the kids who lost early fighting back and getting on the bus to state,”Meeker said. “I was happy with anyone coming up the backside and just battling and staying tough. Everyone has got to stay focused towards their individual goals and the team will results will take care of themselves at state.”

Other Cowboys who qualified for state include third-place finishers Terran Libolt (106), Trey Shores (120), Michael Seyl (138), Cole Ovens (145), John Crites (152), and Zach Smith (195). Also qualifying for state was Carson Raymond, who finished fourth at 170 pounds.

One other Cowboy finished on the podium, but did not qualify for the state tournament as Diego Vargas finished sixth at 195 pounds.

“This team has got high goals and high aspirations,”Huffman said. “They want to do something that a team has never done before, and in order to do that we’ve got to get as many guys on the podium as possible. The goal going in is to place 23 kids and to break the state record.”

The state championships start on Friday, Feb. 28 at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Wrestling continues throughout the day Saturday with team awards scheduled for 10 p.m. Saturday evening. Wrestling is scheduled to start both days at 8:30 a.m.

Special District 2 Wrestling Championships

at La Pine

Team scores — Crook County 551.5, La Grande 245, Ridgeview 224.5, Ontario 166.5, McLoughlin 100, Madras 92, Baker 84, La Pine 81, Sisters 4.

Individual results (top four qualify for state championships)

106 — 1. Francisco Barrera, Ontario. 2. Cole Rohan, La Grande. 3. Terran Libolt, Crook County. 4. Ian Oppenlander, Madras. 5. Corey Isaacson, La Grande. 6. Cesar Nunez, Ontario.

113 — 1. Trayton Libolt, Crook County. 2. Johnny Avina, Crook County. 3. Quentin Durfee, La Grande. 4. James AhHee, Baker. 5. Tanner Boatman, Ridgeview. 6. Ethan Matthews, La Pine.

120 — 1. Kurt Mode, Crook County. 2. Taran Hardwick, La Grande. 3. Trey Shores, Crook County. 4. Thorin Wilson, La Pine. 5. Gage Davila, Ontario. 6. Jace Oppenlander, Madras.

126 — 1. Brent Bannon, Crook County. 2. Jarred Dupoint, Madras. 3. Jonathan Gonzalez, La Grande. 4. Marco Vela, Baker. 5. Korey Grende, Baker. 6. Manuel Perez, Ontario.

132 — 1. Hayden Bates, Crook County. 2. Grayson Munn, Crook County. 3. Cole Skramstad, McLoughlin. 4. Jose Stevens, Ontario. 5. Seth DeViney, La Grande. 6. Jared Neiss, La Grande.

138 — 1. Ryan Middleton, La Grande. 2. Ryder Shinkle, Crook County. 3. Michael Seyl, Crook County. 4. Calvin Rodman, Ridgeview. 5. Alyxander Shaw, McLoughlin. 6. Kaden Kilburg, McLoughlin.

145 — 1. Colbran Meeker, Crook County. 2. Jeffrey Jones, McLoughlin. 3. Cole Ovens, Crook County. 4. Trevor Parson, Madras. 5. Cohen Merritt, Ridgeview. 6. J.C. Carrillo, Ontario.

152 — 1. Tyler Berger, Crook County. 2. Blake Yensen, McLoughlin. 3. John Crites, Crook County. 4. Luke Huntington, Ridgeview. 5. Thomas Larsen, Baker. 6. Nicholas Kavanaugh, La Grande.

160 — 1. Brendan Harkey, Crook County. 2. Preston Armstrong, La Grande. 3. Christopher Love, La Pine. 4. Johnny Carpenter, Ontario. 5. Chase Wolford, Ridgeview. 6. Vince Roff, McLoughlin.

170 — 1. Caleb Woodworth, La Grande. 2. Clark Woodward, Crook County. 3. Brent Yeakey, Ridgeview. 4. Carson Raymond, Crook County. 5. Tanner Hanson, La Pine. 6. Peter Baker, La Pine

182 — 1. Gunnar Robirts, Crook County. 2. Aaron Swindle, Crook County. 3. Colt Christensen, Ridgeview. 4. Salvador Morales, Ontario. 5. Michael Bauman, Madras. 6. Dylan McHargue, La Grande.

195 — 1. Boomer Fleming, Ridgeview. 2. Juan Lopez, Ontario. 3. Zach Smith, Crook County. 4. Sean Hancock, Ridgeview. 5. Micah Fuller, La Grande. 6. Diego Vargas, Crook County.

220 — 1. Trevor Rasmussen, Crook County. 2. Curtis Crouch, Crook County. 3. Oscar Torres, Ontario. 4. Connor Sperling, Ridgeview. 5. Brandon Hanson, Ridgeview. 6. Hayden Manu, Madras.

285 — 1. Jason Williams, Crook County. 2. Dyllan Reece, La Grande. 3. Cruz Christiansen, Ridgeview. 4. Brian Chavez, Ridgeview. 5. Malachi Knox, Baker. 6. Miguel Sevilla, Madras.