Three Bulldogs, one Buff earn championship crowns
The Culver Bulldogs and the Madras White Buffalos gave impressive performances last Friday and Saturday at the annual Culver wrestling invitational at Culver High School.
Competing with 22 other teams, Culver placed second with a total of 187 points, behind favorite rival Dayton, who won the tournament with 208 points. Madras took fifth with 144.5 points.
Coming into the championship rounds Saturday night, Culver was leading the tournament, while Madras was a close second. However, as the final rounds got under way, Dayton pulled ahead of Culver and Madras slipped, as Glide stepped up to finish third (160) and La Pine finished fourth (148).
Dayton has long been a tough contender with the Bulldogs. While the Culver wrestling team has won their home tournament the last four years in a row, Dayton managed to catch the Bulldogs this year. But Culver head coach J.D. Alley wasn't disappointed in the Bulldogs' performance at all, noting that the rivalry between Dayton and Culver adds to the excitement of wrestling.
"I guess it was time for someone else to win it," said Alley. "We're going to bounce back and forth and exchange a few jabs (with Dayton) and I think it's healthy for the sport and for the fans."
One of the most riveting matches throughout the entire evening unfolded between Bulldog freshman Miguel Baltazar and Dayton defending state champion Jesse Marines, a junior. Wrestling at 112 pounds, Baltazar and Marines battled it out on the mat, following the other move for move. By round three, the two had the entire gym in a frenzy when Baltazar came out with the win by a 7-5 decision and was crowned as the champion. For his stunning final performance, Baltazar was rewarded with the Outstanding Wrestling award.
"For a freshman to step in and defeat a defending state champion is something. He (Baltazar) wrestles to the level of the competition and he came to wrestle Saturday. Anyone there could just feel the energy in the air during that match," said Alley. "The crowd went crazy. I don't think I've ever heard that kind of roar coming out of that gym as I did during that match."
Shortly after Baltazar's thrilling match against Marines, Culver senior James Moyses, a three-time state runner up, stepped onto the mat to wrestle Colton's Trevor Hess at 119 pounds. Moyses didn't waste any time getting down to business, as he went after Hess and took him down, recording a fall in 40 seconds flat to win. Moyses was rewarded with the fastest fall award, after he wrestled four times and recorded two falls.
"He (Moyses) had the fastest fall all evening. He pinned his way through the tournament. His cumulative wrestling time was three minutes for the tournament. He wrestled four matches and didn't hardly wrestle three minutes. It was amazing," noted Alley.
Alley also praised the dominance of Adam Kinley, who took on Santiam's Brady Becker to come off the mat as the 130-pound champion with a 4-0 decision.
Culver had nine wrestlers place in the tournament and while the Bulldogs were sitting in first-place at the beginning of the final rounds, Coach Alley noted that despite injuries, his team finished strong.
"The guys we had wrestling did a good job. We just had some strange things happen injury wise," said Alley.
During the semifinals, one of Culver's top wrestlers and the No. 1 seed, Brian Stills, hurt his knee and was unable to go on in the tournament -- an unfortunate event that eventually hurt the Bulldogs ability to score points. Stills finished the tournament in sixth-place at 160 pounds.
Of the nine placers for Culver, sophomore Levi Roberts made it to the final round -- which was a first for him, as he'd never made it that far in a tournament before, according to Coach Alley. While Roberts wrestled a tough match against Redmond's Justin Marlin, he lost by a 4-2 decision to place second in the tournament.
Other placers for the Bulldogs included Jeremy Thompson, who took third at 112 pounds, Michael Williams (103), who took fourth, and Daniel Brabham (145) who was fifth. First-year wrestler Jake Nelson finished sixth for Culver and has been improving "by leaps and bounds," according the Alley.
The awards given out during the Culver Invitational -- which included the Outstanding Wrestler award, given to Baltazar, the Fastest Fall award given to Moyses and the Mr. Takedown award given to Dayton's Barry Johnson were in honor and memory of two Culver wrestlers who died in 2001: Travis Kinley and John Urbach. The awards are given out every year in remembrance.
"Every year my kids have one at least one of those awards and I think the kids are honored to have those awards hanging on their walls," noted Alley.
Madras White Buffalos
The Buffs were also impressive on the mat, sitting in second place going into the championships and placing fifth overall.
Of the 12 wrestlers scoring points for Madras, two made it to the final round-heavyweight Blaine Begay, who finished second, and 160-pound wrestler Jacob Struck, who was crowned the champion by fall after defeating Sherman/Condon's Justin Brown. Struck pinned Brown in 4:22 in overtime.
A state qualifier last season, Struck gave it his all in the final round when Brown had him down on the mat in the third round. At the very end, Struck escaped to tie and take the match into overtime to eventually win.
"Him winning the championship was fantastic. It was a really good effort on his part," said Madras head coach Paul Brown. "I thought we did fantastic this weekend. It was a great performance by all the kids. I was proud of them."
Madras had seven wrestlers place in the top six out of 22 teams. Besides champion Struck and runner-up Begay, Cory Carrillo wrestled into third place at 130 pounds against teammate Cameron Rosenfield, who took fourth. Coach Brown praised the efforts of Carrillo and Rosenfield, noting the two had a solid tournament.
Chris Monroe (140) and Larry Snellings (135) each wrestled for fifth place and Jeremey DuPont was fourth at 145 pounds. Freshman heavyweight Will Wienert finished in sixth place for Madras.
"We had a lot of really good wrestling this weekend and it was awesome to see us sitting in second place for a while," said Brown, who noted that in the final rounds, other teams had just a little more strength to pull ahead of the Buffs. "We're improving week by week and hopefully when we get into league, we'll be all squared away."
In the week ahead, Culver and Madras will have a busy schedule. Today, Dec. 15, Culver will head to Redmond to take on Redmond and Summit at 6 p.m. before flying to Las Vegas on Thursday for a national tournament against 33 other teams, in which 12 Bulldog wrestlers will compete, including Baltazar, Moyses, Kinley, Roberts, Stills, Brabham, Billy Kenyon, Matt Zachary, Kevin Koenig, Luis Serna and Kyle Fisher.
On Thursday, Madras will host Bend at 6 p.m. before hitting the road for the McLoughlin Union Hi Invite this Saturday.