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Oregon Wrestling Classic tips off

Oregon's top wrestlers converge on Redmond for tournament this weekend

by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Levi Roan wrestles Dustin Connell of Bend in teh 189-pound match of their Jan. 4, dual meet matchup.  Connell won the match, while Crook County won the meet.  Both Crook county and Bend are participating in the Oregon Wrestling Classic beginning today in Redmond with 80 high school teams as well as college, women's and youth wrestling.  The Classic is the largest wrestling tournament in the nortwest and one of the largest in the country.

Virtually all the top high school wrestling teams in the state have descended on the Deschutes County Fairgrounds today for the Oregon Wrestling Classic.
   "I am excited," said head wrestling coach Mike Shinkle. "I like this tournament. It's great competition. It gives us an excellent opportunity to see where we stack up against the powerhouse teams in 5A."
   All of the 5A schools who earned trophies at last year's state tournament are scheduled to be in attendance, and every other division is equally strong.
   "I expect my kids to get on the mat and compete," said Shinkle. "I expect them to wrestle as hard as they can from whistle to whistle, with no quit. When the dust clears we'll see where we are at. It's going to be a great tournament."
   The tournament is now in its 26th year and is expecting more than 3,000 wrestlers this year, with college, women's and youth divisions as well as 80 high school teams.
   "We have 15 college teams coming including two kids from Oklahoma," said committee member, and Crook County High School Vice Principal Brian Lemos. "Ryan Smith, who we are very proud of, is going to be back, which is a big deal for our kids. We are the best tournament in the state at this point besides the state wrestling tournament."
   The high school portion of the tournament began at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning and Crook County wrestled their first match at 10 a.m. against Glencoe. College and women's wrestling competition runs on Saturday, and the high school tournament concludes with the championship match at 6:45 p.m. Saturday evening. The youth tournament runs Saturday and Sunday.
   There will be five high school divisions with the 6A, 5A and 3A divisions each having four pools of four teams each, while the 4A tournament has four pools of five teams each. The 2A/1A divisions will start with four pools of three teams.
   The wrestling match between Crook County and Mountain View High School that was cancelled on Tuesday due to weather will not be rescheduled. Both schools are in the same pool at the Classic so have agreed to use that match as their league match as well.
   The tournament originally began as a joint effort between Oregon City High School, and Portland State University and has become the largest wrestling tournament in the northwest, and one of the largest in the nation. Amazingly it is run entirely with volunteers.
   "I am pumped," said Lemos. "There is a lot of hard work that goes into this tournament and a lot of organization. It's a great tournament and it's all volunteers."
   This year the central Oregon Les Schwab stores are sponsoring the tournament.
   "It is huge for the sport of wrestling," Lemos said. "If you want to see the best competition in the state as far as wrestling come to the Oregon Classic. It's a great tournament. You can see that I'm pumped about it."
   Several local college athletes return to participate in Classic
   Fifteen college teams are expected to be represented in the college portion of the Classic. Clackamas Community College, Pacific, UC Davis, Portland State, San Francisco State, Simon Frasier and Northern Colorado are all expected to bring full teams. In addition, wrestlers from Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Boise State, Southern Oregon, Southwestern Oregon Community College, North Idaho College, Highline Community College and Yakima Community College are also expected to compete.
   Crook County High School graduate Ryan Smith, a three-time state champion, who is currently a redshirt freshman at Oklahoma, returns to wrestle in the college division of the Classic, and brings a college teammate with him.
   Smith is only one of several former Crook County wrestlers scheduled to compete in the Classic at the collegiate level. Jace Lewis, Jess Cruise and Kelly Puckett, all members of Clackamas Community College's wrestling team, are expected to compete as is Justin Barden, a member of Pacific University's team.
   Fausto Baltazar formerly from Culver and now wrestling for Pacific University and Troy Kessell, a former Hermiston wrestler, who won the last two 5A 189-pound state titles, and is now wrestling for Northern Colorado, are also expected to participate.
   Oregon Wrestling Classic teams
   6A Division
   Canby, David Douglas, Grants Pass, Gresham, Hood River, Lincoln, McMinnville, Milwaukie, Newberg, North Salem, Oregon City, Redmond, Reynolds, Roseburg, Tualatin, West Linn
   5A Division
   Bend, Century, Churchill, Cleveland, Corvallis, Crater, Crook County, Eagle Point, Glencoe, Hermiston, Hillsboro, Madras, Mountain View, Pendleton, Silverton, St. Helens
   4A Division
   Baker City, Banks, Cascade, Cottage Grove, Estacada, Gladstone, Henley, Illinois Valley, LaGrande, LaPine, McLoughlin, Molalla, Newport, Ontario, Philomath, Phoenix, Scappoose, Sutherlin, Sweet Home, Tillamook
   3A Division
   Burns, Clatskanie, Colton, Dayton, Glide, Harrisburg, Myrtle Point, Neah-Kah-Nie, Rainer, Reedsport, Riverside, Sheridan, Vale, Vernonia, Willamina
   2A/1A Division
   Central Linn, Crane, Culver, Elgin, Glendale, Irrigon, Lakeview, Mohawk, Nestucca, Oakridge, Pine Eagle, Scio
   If you plan to go
   What: Oregon Wrestling Classic
   Where: Deschutes County Fairgrounds
   When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The first wrestling match began at 8:30 a.m.
   Cost: $10 a day for adults, $5 for students.
   Who: 80 high school wrestling teams from all five state wrestling classifications including Crook County, Bend, Madras, and Mountain View, Hermiston and Pendleton from the Intermountain Conference.
   College wrestling from 15 different schools including Oklahoma, Oregon and Oregon State are also expected to participate.
   Tournament Schedule: The high school tournament runs both Friday and Saturday. Both an open college tournament and a women's tournament are also scheduled for Saturday. Youth wrestling begins on Saturday and concludes Sunday afternoon. All together more than 3,000 wrestlers are expected.