Grapplers take seventh at tourney
Ryan Smith finishes first at 125 pounds to lead Crook County
While Crook County wrestler silently notched yet another win, a different one slipped in his return.
Their efforts helped Crook County take seventh out of 19 teams at the heavily stacked Reser's Tournament of Champions at Liberty High in Hillsboro. Crater, last year's 4A state champion, took first, while Pendleton was fifth and Hermiston was ninth.
"Besides the state tournament, this is probably the top tournament in the state," said Coach Mike Shinkle. "I am happy with seventh, but overall we didn't wrestle to our potential, which gives us some hope for the future."
Sophomore Ryan Smith, the No. 1 ranked 4A wrestler at 125 pounds this year, went 4-0 to claim first place in his weight division.
Smith, who has lost only one matchup all season - a one-point decision to Trevor Austin of Roseburg at the Coast Classic in December - recorded four pins on the day to earn his team)s highest finish.
He won by fall over Alec Zachman in 1:03 in the final.
"He)s a real physical wrestler," said coach Mike Shinkle. "He)s just quietly getting it done."
Ben Neasham, making his first varsity appearance since last month, was close behind with a 4-1 record to take third at 130 pounds. Neasham was edged in the semifinals by top-ranked Keith Carter of Pendleton 6-5.
Carter pinned Neasham in an earlier meeting this year.
"He did wonderful. He)s still a little bit out of shape after taking some time off, but mentally he)s there," said Shinkle.
The Cowboys had five wrestlers place in all. Trent Lucas took third at 152 pounds after posting a 4-1 record, Shane Rhoden was fourth at 112 pounds and Jess Cruise (140) finished sixth.
The junior varsity team extended further optimism for the future with a fifth place finish at the same tournament.
They, too, had five wrestlers place. Kelly Puckett took first at 140 pounds, Tyler McCormack was second at 130, Joey Buley (112) and Dustin Chapman (145) each picked up thirds and Luke Thompson earned a fifth at 152.
Crook County takes on Summit tonight at home. The varsity matchup is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. and the junior varsity gets going at 6 p.m.