MHS grapplers aim for gold
Vasquez, Dupont returning state qualifiers for Buffs
With a pair of returning state placers and a stable full of young talent waiting to burst on to the scene, the Madras wrestling team is ready to rumble.
While the White Buffalos will be without its only state champion from last season, then-senior Travis Williams, they return a runner-up and a qualifier from last season.
Senior Miguel Vasquez, a second-place finisher two years in a row, lost in the 132-pound final to Henley's Zorg Loustalet by decision. That loss has fueled him to not let that happen again.
"He's definitely driven this year," Madras head coach Ron Oliver said. "He doesn't want to go out in second place again."
Vasquez stayed dedicated to a workout program that included running on the cross country team in the fall to help with his stamina, along with strength training.
The other state qualifier back from last year's team is sophomore Jared Dupont. Dupont picked up a win at 120 pounds as a freshman last season, an experience that Oliver said will be invaluable to him as he moves forward.
"He wants more," Oliver said of Dupont. "His goal is to place, and we've got a lot of guys that are tough around his weight."
In fact, Oliver said his team's strength is at the lightweights. He said he's got 4-5 around the 120-126 pound range that will be able to push each other and make for intense practices.
Oliver expects Lane McDonald at 120 pounds and Samuel Flores at 113 pounds to be factors in the lineup as well, saying Flores and Bryce Vincent are "going to have some great wrestle-offs" when it comes to making the varsity team for tournaments.
"At a couple of the weights, it's going to be a week-to-week battle for varsity spots," Oliver said.
While the team doesn't have a wrestler to fill out the 152- or 160-pound class right now, Oliver said they should by the end of the year as a few of the bigger wrestlers are able to drop down and fill in those spots.
At 185 pounds, sophomore Michael Baumen is a guy Oliver thinks could make some noise.
"He really built some strength over the past year and is coming into his own," Oliver said. "He played on the football team this year, and that's helped quite a bit."
Madras will kick off the season Saturday at the Central Oregon Officials wrestling tournament at Mountain View High School in Bend on Saturday, then will host Summit for a dual meet on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The Buffs will host a meet on Jan. 26, but the real test for the team, Oliver said, is going to come at the Oregon Classic, held in Redmond on Jan. 18-19.
They will compete in a dual tournament format against other Class 4A competition and will get a true look at how they stack up against the state. They will probably see some teams in their region as well, like Mac-Hi from Milton-Freewater, Ontario, La Grande and Baker.
"It's tough to tell where we are at against those teams in the region we won't see right away," Oliver said. "The Classic should give us a good idea, though."
Other teams in the region, which will have its state qualifying tournament in La Grande on Feb. 15, include Sisters, Crook County, Ridgeview and La Pine, along with the schools from the Greater Oregon League.
"Crook County is always so tough," Oliver said. "But as far as the other schools in the area go, I think we're right there with them. We have the team to do some pretty good things the year."