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Host Culver wins again; J.C. wins eight brackets

Bulldogs win third straight Invite team title

by: Photo By Joe McHaney - Brandon Bailey of Madras secures Culver’s Noe Gonzalez with a headlock during the 113-pound final at the Culver Wrestling Invitational Dec. 11.

It was a dominating performance by Jefferson County wrestlers last weekend at the Culver Wrestling Invitational.
   Of the 28 wrestlers in the final weight-bracket championships, 11 were from Jefferson County, and when the spotlight turned off, eight had earned individual titles and 27 locals placed in the top six overall in a tournament that's taken place annually in Culver for over 30 years.
   "Two years ago we gave away Jake McDonald memorial buckles and we had just one Culver or Madras champion, but (Saturday) we had eight," CHS head coach J.D. Alley said. "This was a really special night for Jefferson County."
   Culver captured its third consecutive tournament team championship, sending eight wrestlers to the finals. Tucker Davis (120 pounds), Jared Kasch (126), Ryan Kasch (132), Jesus Retano (152) and Justin Hendrix (285) all earned individual weight-bracket titles for Culver, matching the most ever by the Bulldogs.
   "We had some big wins and a couple tough losses," Alley said of his eight wrestlers in the finals.
   The Bulldogs earned 287.5 points for first place, followed by Glide (206.5), La Pine (176), Madras (156) and Redmond's junior varsity (133).
   "I was proud of our guys," Alley said. "We did a lot of things right, but we stubbed our toe a couple times, too."
   Retano won his third consecutive individual weight-bracket title at the Culver Invite. The senior needed the win to give Culver the team championship last year, but this season, the Bulldogs placed 17 wrestlers in the top six and held firm control the entire tournament.
   "This was a great way for me to go out as a senior," Retano said. "There were a few matches we should have won. We let a few get away."
   Ryan Kasch also won for the third straight time, while his brother Jared picked up his second Culver Invite title after losing last year.
   "Everything is going pretty good this year and I feel healthy," Ryan Kasch said. "It's always a lot of fun winning with my brother. I watch him and it sets the tempo for me."
   Hendrix was grinning from ear to ear after winning the 285-pound final. The senior won by fall over Darrin Dulley of La Pine.
   "I've been trying so hard to win this tournament, and I finally got it," Hendrix said. "I'm so excited and it just feels awesome."
   The White Buffalos earned three individual weight-bracket titles topping two Bulldogs in the process. Brandon Bailey won at 113 over Culver's Noe Gonzalez, Miguel Vasquez won 1-0 over Josue Gonzalez of Culver and Travis Williams won by fall at 220.
   "I felt like we wrestled real well," MHS head coach Ron Oliver said. "Our team score is not as high as we wanted, but we wrestled tough."
   Bailey's 16-13 win at 113 pounds nearly blew the lid off Culver High School's rustic gymnasium. He led 7-2 after the first round with a near fall using a firm headlock, but Gonzalez battled back to make it 15-13, before Bailey scored an escape with just seconds remaining in the match to earn the victory.
   "Brandon is a tough kid and I think he showed what he can do," Oliver said of Bailey. "My biggest fear was that a skilled wrestler like Noe would come back, and he did, but Brandon found a way to hold him off."
   At 138 pounds, the final match was highly anticipated with Josue Gonzalez, a two-time Class 2A/1A state champion, pitted against Vasquez, who lost in the Class 4A 125-poundstate championship final last season. Each wrestler strategically sized each other up, but an escape by Vasquez in the second round was all he needed to secure his second Culver Invite championship and stop Gonzalez from winning his third straight weight-bracket title on his home mats.
   "Having to go against Culver was like so huge and especially Josue," said Vazquez, who edged Gonzalez 3-0 as a freshman in the only meeting between the two prior to last Saturday's match. "He gave me a really tough match."
   Williams locked up his third straight Culver Invite title. He tossed Sutherlin's Beau Grauf around for a few minutes before winning by fall.
   "My strategy was to just get take downs," Williams said. "I'm a little tired, but it always feels really good to win this tournament."
   Also for Madras, Bryce Vincent (106), Samuel Flores (113) and Kole Wills (120) each finished third; Adan Toscano (106) and Jared Dupont (120) each placed fourth; and Broc Sanders (113) and Ethan Short (152) each placed fifth.
   "Our younger guys are gaining confidence and this was a good tournament for us," Oliver said.
   For Culver, Ivan Galan lost in the 170 pound final, Kyle Bender (126) and Cody Clugston (152) each placed third; Cole Simmons (132), Kyle Belanger (145) and Mitch Adams (182) all placed fourth; Johnathon Krueger (106) and Josh Hendrix (285) each placed fifth; and Wyatt Rufener (16) and Jordan Henson (185) each placed sixth.
   "I think this was the strongest team we've had in awhile at this tournament, but unfortunately we lost a few in the finals," Jared Kasch said.
   Madras will wrestle at the Irwin Classic Friday and Saturday, held at Mountain View High School in Bend. The Bulldogs will wrestle at Thurston Dec. 17.
   Editor's note -- Madras lost a dual meet to Summit High School Dec. 8. Williams (220) and Vasquez (138) each won by fall, Wills won 10-0 at 120 pounds and Madras picked up three wins via forfeit.