>Bulldogs' depth provides victory
Culver High's wrestling team took a step toward a strong finish in upcoming tournament's like its district event and the Oregon 2A state championship by winning its own Culver Invitational Saturday.
"I can't say enough about the kind of character our kids showed to win," said Culver head coach J.D. Alley.
"Some years we've had it won early and other times we've come from behind, but this is the first time I can remember that it's been so close," Alley said of the Bulldogs owning a one-point lead over Crook County and LaPine at the end of the Friday part of the tournament. The team totals then fluctuated between rounds so Culver slipped to second twice before pulling away by having its depth display itself.
Having all 13 wrestlers who were designated Culver's placing members for the event advance to at least the semifinals of the consolation part of their bracket was the "big" factor in the Bulldogs' win, Alley said.
There were points given for each win wrestlers recorded with bonuses for winning by so many points or securing a pin. The addition of points for winning by more than eight points or by pin helped the Bulldogs in a few cases.
Culver's champions were Lance Roberts and Mark Coy, two of the three seniors on the team. Both continued unbeaten seasons by winning their weights for Culver; Roberts at 215 pounds and Coy at 171. Roberts is part of a rare group, as a home-schooled wrestler. He improved to 5-0 this season.
Bryan Stills was praised by the Culver coach for finishing second at 135.
"As a freshman, Bryan learned he can hang with the older guys," Alley said.
Two more seconds were recorded in the finals by Culver, but only Junior Baltazar's finish at 119 counted.
That was because Roberts beat teammate Ross McWilliams in the 215 finals and just one wrestler per team can score toward the team total. Roberts' victory thus scored for Culver. McWilliams' second was still valuable to Culver in that it pushed challengers down a spot in their effort to catch the Bulldogs.
John Urbach recovered from a semifinals loss at 140 pounds, after being seeded first at that weight, to earn third in an overtime battle. That was just one example of the Bulldogs scoring as much as they could, even if they lost.
James Moyses got Culver started on its string of scoring in each of the weights in which it had a wrestler by recovering from a Friday loss at 103 pounds. Moyses advanced to the semifinals of the consolation bracket before losing to the eventual third-place finisher on his way to earning fifth.
Adam Kinley scored one win for Culver on Friday before being dropped into the consolation bracket at 112 pounds. Like nearly half the brackets in the event, the 112 bracket was stocked with a national-championship caliber wrestler. Chad Moulton from Redmond is only at the junior varsity level so far this season but has participated in a national age-group championship at Tulsa, Okla., in past seasons.
Strong wrestlers from the Redmond and Crook County junior varsity teams placed highly in many weight brackets, along with LaPine, to make the win difficult, said Alley.
Culver had more wrestlers in the championship, third-place and fifth-place matches combined than any other team.
While it just missed having the most finalists, Culver was the only school with 13 wrestlers in the three matches for top places.
A trip to Reno for a national-level tournament, the weekend of Dec. 21-22, is looming for Culver. First, however, it is hosting a novice event Wednesday, Dec. 12, plus a Dec. 18 dual match against Redmond to get prepared.
Having a couple of wrestlers lose matches they could have won was they only frustrating part of the tournament, coach Alley said of the Culver wrestlers' showing.
Coy was among the rare champions who won by more in their final match than in their semifinal battle. He explained the difference by saying he was "more prepared to wrestle in the championship." Going up against Crook County JV wrestler Steven Brock in the finals was a matter of being prepared to be attacked, said Coy. He felt determined not to let the younger wrestler get in on him for a fall.
Getting to practice against heavier wrestlers like Anthony Alley and Roberts during the Bulldogs' practices is also a help, according to Coy.
Bryce Miller gave Culver one of its third-place awards -- at 152 pounds. Yet, the senior expressed some disappointment. He said, "I wasn't supposed to let him get that take down." after a semifinal loss to eventual 152 champion Kevin Koenig of the Redmond JV team.
Miller's showing boosted the Culver total more than some others, though, as he collected a pin during his match in the semifinals of the consolation bracket, to set up his match for third.
Sandwiched between the second by Baltazar at 119 and Danny Loredo's third for Culver at 130 was a fourth-place at 125 by Travis Kinley. Coincidentally enough, both of the team's second Kinley's losses were to LaPine's two entrants at that weight. After dropping his first match, Kinley advanced all the way to the consolation finals, by upsetting one of the losing semifinalists from the winners' bracket.
Culver's coach was only disappointed with one aspect of the team's showing. In light of a couple of matches being virtually "given" away after being led by Culver, Alley said he is convinced the squad has enormous potential.
This could be a very special season for Culver when it comes to standing up to its present ranking as the state's top 2A team, Alley hinted.