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Grapplers qualify eight for 4A state tournament

The Crook County wrestling team will send a young but talented lineup to the 4A state tournament this weekend in Salem.
   Ryan Smith, a 125-pound junior, Trent Lucas (152 pounds, senior), Shane Rhoden (112, junior) and Mike Gast (119, sophomore) represent the Cowboys best chance at placing while newcomers Kelly Puckett (145, sophomore), Luke Thompson (152, junior), Kevin Cholin (171, junior) and Chase Raymond (171, senior) should add depth.
   "It's a numbers game at the state tournament and I like what we have," said coach Mike Shinkle.
    Shinkle is shooting for a top ten showing. The Cowboys had 10 wrestlers qualify last year and took fourth.
   Of the Cowboys two qualifying seniors, only Lucas is a returning participant.
   "He's probably been our biggest team leader all year," said Shinkle. "On and off the mat."
   Lucas placed fourth last year at the tournament at 152 pounds.
   The tournament has been moved to Salem this year and will take place in the Pavilion at the State Fairgrounds.
   Action will begin Thursday morning and continue late into the night Saturday.
   "It's kind of like your third season," said Shinkle. "Nothing else matters any more."