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Locals win Free Berry medals

Lakeview-Culver duel canceled

by: Photo By Gary Lindberg - Jake Nelson of Culver scored four pins to win the 119-pound title at the Free Berry Classic in Pendleton. Last month, Nelson put Avery Overlake of North Lake on his head in the Culver Invitational.

Update: The Lakeview at Culver duel scheduled for Wednesday has been canceled. No makeup date is scheduled.
   Plenty of wrestling medals and points journeyed south after the Free Berry Classic in Pendleton late Saturday.
   Culver and Madras combined to earn 21 medals and scored more than 400 points in the two-day event with 12 teams.
   Culver finished a close second to the host Buckaroos while Madras was fourth. The Bulldogs were just 12 points behind Pendleton (258-246) thanks to a trio of champions. Jake Nelson at 119 pounds, Miguel Baltazar at 135 and Austin Alley at 189 (defeating teammate Matt Zachary in the title match) led the way.
   "It was a good weekend and our depth showed against a lot of bigger schools," Culver coach J.D. Alley said. "To score as many points as we did (246), it takes a lot of guys having a good weekend."
   Madras edged out West Albany by two points (186.5-184.5). The Buffs were without a full varsity lineup. Rodney Smith won the 140 title with Stephen Scranton (125), Ryan Brunner (135) and James Rodriguez (215) taking second.
   "We took just 14 guys," Madras coach Paul Brown said. "So, to finish fourth with as many points as we did means we had an outstanding tournament."
   Culver: Baltazar used technical falls and pins to claim the 135 title. The decisive victories prompted the tourney coaches to vote Baltazar the outstanding wrestler for the 2007 Free Berry Classic.
   Baltazar clinched the title by pinning Brunner of Madras. The two also met in the Culver Invite finals with the same result.
   Nelson scored pins or technical falls to claim the 119 title, up one class from his usual weight. Nelson scored a pin in the finals against a Walla Walla wrestler after a technical fall against the 2A/1A runnerup at 112 last season (Rosario Rios of Irrigon).
   "A few of the guys weren't in their normal positions," Alley said. "We let them enjoy Christmas by being up a weight class."
   Culver monopolized the 189 final between Alley and Zachary. Alley won in a one-point decision after both dominated earlier matches.
   "This was just the second time Matt's been in a final," the coach said. "The other time was the district tournament earlier this year."
   The veteran coach added he's not sure how the Alley-Zachary situation at 189 will work out for the district tourney.
   "We have plenty of time to figure it out," Alley said. "We also have a good wrestler at 215 (Nick Barany)."
   Barany finished third at 215. A trio of Bulldogs were fourth: Patrick Foster at 140, Austin Barany at 145 and Paul Krueger at 171. Taking fifth were: Justin Bunch (103), Jared Schehen (130), Gerald Speas (152), Casey Usher (160) and Jake McDonald (189).
   Culver's finish surprised Alley.
   "When they were announcing the final standings, I wasn't sure if we'd finish ahead of Madras or LaGrande (in first place Friday)," Alley said.
   Pendleton won by scoring points at 112 and 285, weights of which Culver didn't field wrestlers.
   Next up for the Bulldogs is a home duel against Lakeview at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Culver then travels to the Joseph Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
   Madras: A bounce-back tourney by Smith led the Buffs' fourth-place finish.
   A week earlier, the sophomore finished out of the top six at Mountain View's Irwin Classic.
   Smith scored a pin the second period against Andrew Hardenbrook of LaGrande. He pinned all of his foes.
   "Rod wrestled very well and he didn't make any mistakes," the Madras coach said. "He was determined not to lose."
   Scranton scored two pins and a decision to reach the 125 finals. He then lost a 5-2 decision to Nick Zubria of Pendleton (ranked No. 9 at that weight in 5A according to Oregon Wrestling Forum).
   Brunner also had two pins and a decision to reach the 135 finals before falling to Baltazar.
   "Ryan keeps meeting state champions in the finals," Brown said.
   Rodriguez had his own challenge against a state champion. He dropped a 5-2 decision to Daniel Hansen of Riverside, a 3A champ last season. Hansen's points came on a takedown and reversal. Rodriguez had three pins to reach the finals.
   "James wrestled better this weekend," Brown said. "He's getting more mat time which is helping him."
   Trevor Barrett (189) added a third place with a fourth place by Nathan Monroe (130) and sixth by Harrison Buller (140).
   Throughout the tourney, Madras was involved in a battle with West Albany to finish in the top four.
   "We had guys who didn't medal but scored team points," Brown said. "They made the difference in us finishing ahead of West Albany."
   Madras went into the tourney without regulars Will Wienert (second at 285 a week before) and Robert Rodriguez (sixth at 119 at Irwin) along with Rolin Morningowl (171) and Josh DuPont (215).
   "All those guys would have scored points for us," Brown said.