Bulldogs claim bronze
Kasch, Davis go toe-to-toe for title, Madras finishes fifth
Although the meet was running late and some people had left the building, when the spotlight beamed brightly on the finalists at the Culver Invitational wrestling tournament, the crowd still roared.
The culmination of the 20-school tournament at Culver High School produced a pair of champions from Culver and Madras, and both schools staked claim to top-five team finishes as well Saturday night.
Culver finished third in the team standings with 168 points, 24 points clear of Class 2A rival Lowell, while Madras slid into fifth place just two points behind Lowell and 36 points ahead of Central Linn.
Winning weight-class championships for the Bulldogs were sophomore Tucker Davis and senior Josh Hendrix, both of whom pulled off stunning victories in their own right.
Davis and three-time state champion Jared Kasch ended up in the same weight bracket due to weight certification and descent plans, something Culver head coach and tournament director J.D. Alley said, "was a shame."
Davis, a state champ himself, battled with Kasch in the finals and clinched the title with a reversal late in the third round to break a 2-2 deadlock and win, 4-2.
The two are workout partners during practice, and while Davis is aiming for his second state title, Kasch is going for the coveted fourth state title of his high school career.
"Those guys battle it out every day," Alley said. "Tucker is a great competitor, and he's kind of an unorthodox wrestler, which presents some problems to his opponents."
Perhaps the match of the night came in the last one, the heavyweight final between Hendrix and Nestucca's Sam Kenagy.
While the two big fellas were locked in the scoreless tie after the first two rounds, Kenagy took a 1-0 lead early in the third round with an escape, but Hendrix wasn't going to be denied the title in his house.
With 40.2 seconds left in the match, Hendrix rolled the taller Kenagy on to the mat for a two-point takedown to claim a 2-1 lead.
Hendrix wasn't finished, however, and 20 seconds later, the big Bulldog ripped his opponent to the mat, and amidst a roaring hometown crowd, Hendrix sealed the deal with a pin.
For the White Buffalos, it was the small, wiry contingent that earned gold.
Samuel Flores scored a second-round pin against Glide's Bryson Belloir to win the 113-pound division.
He led 4-2 after the first round, scoring both a takedown and a reversal, but with a minute remaining in the second frame, Flores stopped what would have eventually been Glide's seventh meet champion.
Madras' Bryce Vincent pinned Oakridge's Tristan Henderson with 31.9 seconds remaining in the first round to cap a perfect tournament.
All but one of Vincent's matches ended in a first-round pin. In his first match, he beat Myrtle Point's Trevor Fullerton by decision, 5-2.
Madras' Miguel Vasquez made it to the 138-pound final, but there he met one of the state's best at the weight, regardless of classification, in Glide's Walker Damewood.
Vasquez went the duration with Damewood, an accomplishment in itself, but fell 6-1. Vasquez picked up an escape point in the final round to avoid the shutout, but ended up with the silver medal.
The final round of the tournament is done with all the gym lights off, except for one low-hanging incandescent bulb that lights up the mat - and nothing more - which really creates a special atmosphere and setting.
With that, and the quality of competition Alley reels in, it's no wonder this meet is one of the best early-season meets in Oregon.
"If you look at the winners here, I bet you'll find most of them in the hunt for a state championship this year, or they've already won one," Alley said."
For Culver, Johnathon Krueger placed sixth at 106 pounds, Chandler Honeywell was forth at 113, Bolt Anglen captured third at 138, with his only loss coming to Vasquez, and Juan Diaz placed fifth at 152 pounds.
Rounding out placers for Culver were Kyle Belanger with a fifth-place finish at 160 and Mitch Adams' fourth-place finish at 195 pounds.
For the Buffs, Broc Sanders earned fourth at 120 pounds and Jared Dupont placed third at 126. Lane McDonald placed fourth at 132 pounds and Miguel Sevila placed sixth in the heavyweight division.