Culver corrals district wrestling title
Bulldogs have 11 chances to score at state meet
Culver High captured one team crown and acquired lots of ammunition for its run at another on Friday and Saturday.
Behind weight-class winners Adam Kinley, Brian Stills, Bryce Miller and Mark Coy, the Bulldogs pinned down first place at the District I Oregon 2A high school wrestling championships while earning 11 slots in the Oregon 2A state tournament.
Joining the four champions in representing Culver at the state tournament happening Friday and Saturday at Portland's Memorial Coliseum will be second-place district tournament finishers Junior Baltazar, Travis Kinley and Danny Loredo plus third-place finishers James Moyses, John Urbach, Lance Roberts and Zach Henson.
But it took all of Culver's wrestlers efforts, including fourth-place finishers A.J. Alley and Ross McWilliams to claim the win, Coach J.D. Alley noted.
"It's tough beating someone in their home gym. Neah-Kah-Nie came in gunning for us, after the Oregon Classic," Alley said of the district host's incentive after falling to Culver in a dual competition earlier in the season.
Neah-Kah-Nie fielded about two dozen competitors within the various 16-slot brackets, compared to Culver's 16.
Adam Kinley claimed Culver's first weight division title by beating Neah-Kah-Nie's Justin Kamerer at 112 pounds, on Kamerer's home mat but Culver had by then already picked up its first chance at earning points in the state meet.
That was thanks to James Moyses winning the third-place match at 103 for Culver. Moyses had reached the semi-finals on Friday only to lose to Neah-Kah-Nie's Ryan Vandecoevering in a Saturday morning battle that determined the finalists.
Winning three head-to-head meetings with Neah-Kah-Nie in the finals helped push Culver toward its 309 points and past the Pirates' 270 and the lower scores from other challengers.
Despite a few tense moments during the finals matches against Neah-Kah-Nie, Coach Alley said the matches in which Culver was competing for third and fourth with the district's last of three spots in the state tournament on the line were the ones that were "really tense."
Joining Moyses and the other winners of those matches in making strong efforts were the fourth-place Bulldogs.
"Anthony Alley wrestled a heck of a tournament. He just couldn't quite make it to state," J.D. Alley noted of Culver's second competitor in a stacked 171-pound division that was won by Coy.
McWilliams advanced to a semi-final at 215 only to lose to second-place finisher Brass Sears of Vernonia. The senior then won a consolation bracket semi-final to enter the third-place match against fellow semi-finalist Luke Ellis. A single move late in their match let Ellis break a tie and slip past McWilliams by a single point.
"That was like a couple of our losses. It could have gone either way. Those things happen once in a while," Coach Alley said after his first district championship.
At least one Culver wrestler made it through Friday's first rounds of the district tournament in 12 different weights.
Dustin Jacobsen won his opening match at 103 for Culver only to be bounced into the consolation bracket by Nestucca's Chris Stricker before being eliminated before he reached the point in the bracket at which he could have met Moyses.
Of the weight divisions in which Culver entered two wrestlers, Stills and Loredo made 130 the most productive by far. Other weights earned the Bulldogs points from both sources for a couple rounds, but not into the finals.
Sparsely populated divisions like 103, 112 and 119 let teams have a better chance at earning points from a second source, but most teams weren't fortunate enough to have two people who could consistently make weight at those numbers. Nine different schools, for example, were represented by the nine who wrestled at 119.
Baltazar pulled off one of the tournament's big upsets at that weight for Culver as he beat two-time state champion Kyle Cruickshank from Willamina in a semi-final match. The exertion needed to win didn't help Baltazar in the final as he lost to Dayton's Barry Johnson.
Travis Kinley plus Stills and Loredo made the 125 and 130 divisions gold mines for Culver in terms of points.
While a strong field foiled Dan Brabham's bid to move further in the 135 bracket, his quarter-final loss came against eventual champion Chase Roe of Knappa.
Brabham illustrated Culver's strength in different weights as did John Urbach at 140. While advancing to the semi-final round, Urbach was sidetracked by eventual champ Cory Bryant of Willamina before rallying for third.
Ross Miller made some good progress in the 145 division for Culver but couldn't maintain his winning ways of Friday on Saturday, settling for also-ran status.
The 152 victory by Bryce Miller included wins over some new foes, Miller noted during Friday's action. He was ready for anything on Saturday and virtually got it. His foe proved strongly boosted Danny Emerson from Neah-Kah-Nie, but Miller had lined up help during an incarsiration.
While vacant at 160, Culver scored added points at 170 as Coy clubbed Kidby for the district title after Anthony Alley was foiled in his bid for third.
Culver's 189 and 215 wrestlers, Lance Roberts, Justin Dayhoff and Ross McWilliams, turned in nearly a spectrum of results among just the three of them. Dayhoff suffered the fate of some other teammates, like Brabham, in bowing out of competition by Friday evening. Roberts and McWilliams both spent Friday night resting for the semi-finals in their weight. The only difference was that Roberts rebounded one spot further than McWilliams in their recoveries.
Culver's other Roberts, Chris, missed the event due to an injury while the 275-pound weight was anchored down by Zach "Produce" Henson. He rebounded from a loss to Josh Eichler of Amity on Friday to win three more matches and qualify for the state tournament. Ironically, Eichler did not.
There will be two sessions on both Friday and Saturday with the finals scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Scoring and finalists in the different weights from 2A/1A District 1 included:
TEAM SCORES Culver 309.5, Neah-Kah-Nie 271, Dayton 195.5, Willamina, 191.5, Nestucca 137, Warrenton 103, Amity 101.5, Vernonia 91, Knappa 69.5, Wahtonka 54, Sherman County 28, Sheridan 26, Corbett 2
State Qualifiers and other Culver wrestlers
103: Ryan Vandecoevering, Neah-Kah-Nie; Jaren Kamerer, Neah-Kah-Nie; James Moyses, Culver.
112: Adam Kinley, Culver; Justin Kamerer, Neah-Kah-Nie; Tyson Gilpin, Wahtonka.
119: Barry Johnson, Dayton; Junior Baltazar, Culver; Kyle Cruickshank, Willamina.
125: Graham Lease, Neah-Kah-Nie; Travis Kinley, Culver; Vince Fagundes, Willamina.
130:Brian Stills, Culver; Danny Loredo, Culver; Joe Silva, Dayton.
135: Chase Roe, Knappa; Patrick Willis, Willamina; Ramon Alvarez, Dayton.
140: Cory Bryant, Willamina; Jake Harper, Willamina; John Urbach, Culver.
145: Eric Bennett, Neah-Kah-Nie; Dave Hopkes, Nestucca; Ryan Lee, Dayton.
152: Bryce Miller, Culver; Danny Emerson, Neah-Kah-Nie; Dale Sorenson, Nestucca.
160: Jeff Reeves, Amity; Jacob Zumwalt, Amity; Zach Emerson, Nestucca.
171:Mark Coy, Culver; Chris Kidby, Neah-Kah-Nie; Kyle Umbenhower.
189: Tom Silva, Dayton; Jeff Pike, Warrenton; Lance Roberts, Culver.
215: Kyle Johnson, Warrenton; Brass Sears, Vernonia; Luke Ellis, Vernonia; 4. Ross McWilliams, Culver.
275: Kelly Jones, Neah-Kah-Nie; Dan Pownall, Dayton; Zach Henson, Culver.