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Buffs boast experience on the mat

by: Photo By Christina M. Crockett - Madras junior and heavyweight wrestler Blaine Begay, left, practices his technique with freshman Will Wienert Monday afternoon in the new wrestling room at the Madras High School. Begay is one of three returning state qualifiers for the White Buffalos, who possess plenty of experience this season.

The Madras wrestling program only lost two wrestlers last year, which means the White Buffalos have even more experience on their side this year, which leaves Madras head coach Paul Brown and the rest of the group more than optimistic for the opening season.
   "We're returning just about everybody. That's going to have a huge impact. They (the Buffs) are more cohesive. There's a lot more intensity and they have that experience from last year. It's a whole lot different this year," said Brown.
   With nearly 30 wrestlers, the Madras team has depth, attitude and skill this year. Missing Madras graduates August Scott, who went to state last year, and Austin Smith, the Buffs welcome back three of their four state qualifiers. Senior Jacob Struck comes back to wrestle his final year as the lone team member to place at state last year. Other state qualifiers include heavy weight junior Blaine Begay, who was the only sophomore to qualify for state last year, and Cory Carrillo, who made his first state appearance last year as a freshman.
   While the three state qualifiers will heavily influence the team's ability, other strong wrestlers return to the mat ready to take on a challenge. A core group of sophomores -- Jeremy DuPont, Cameron Scranton, Tyler Fuller, Cameron Rosenfield, Orrin Beals and Carmen Burgos -- each contribute experience and power to the team and will pose a solid threat to competition.
   "They will have a big impact on how we do this season," noted Brown. "We also have some good freshmen coming in. We will have a lot of youth to gain that experience, which will be good for us across the boards."
   Among those talented freshmen is Spud Smith, a proven wrestler throughout middle school. However, Smith will have to sit out his freshman year due to shoulder surgery, which is ultimately unfortunate for the Buffs, who will have to wait for him to hit the high school mat.
   "He's one of our better freshmen wrestlers, but because of the surgery he has to have, we won't see him until next season," said Coach Brown.
   With the promising season on the horizon and a positive attitude to go along with it, Madras looks to have a similar schedule as last year, save for The Dalles, which moved from the Tri-Valley League, and having to compete in an extra tournament here and there.
   Last year, Madras was strapped with talent but lacked the endurance to withstand that extra round. This year, Coach Brown is taking that into consideration, as he expects the Buffs to be able to follow through in technique and physical ability.
   "We are doing a lot more conditioning, so when we get to that third round, we're set to go. We're doing more drill work, focusing on our skills and executing things properly. That's going to have a huge impact on how we do," said Brown.
   With high expectations riding steady in the minds this year's wrestlers, Coach Brown is pleased with their attitude and aims to take the team deeper into the postseason. Last year, with four wrestlers qualifying for state, the White Buffalos missed out in placing in the top ranks at the Class 3A state wrestling tournament. This year, Coach Brown hopes to change that.
   "Our attitude is strong, it's very positive. The kids are willing to work hard when we ask them to. My expectations are to finish in the top two in league, and I am hoping to take more kids to state. Last year we took four. I'm hoping to double that -- maybe even take more," said Brown, who noted the Buffs are eager to step onto the mat to see just where they are at.
   Madras opened the wrestling season yesterday on the road against LaPine. However, results were not available at press time.
   The White Buffalos head to Estacada on Friday for an invitational. Madras' first match at home will be Thursday, Dec. 16 against Bend and Culver.