Tenth title in last 11 years will be on the line for the Cowboys

by: TIM STUMM/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Ben Neasham, left, is among Crook County's favorites at the IMC district tournament this weekend.

The Crook County wrestling team will be relying on its team depth and strong junior varsity program as it attempts to defend its Intermountain Conference District championship this weekend in Hood River.
   Top ranked Pendleton (8-0 IMC) enters the tournament as the heavy favorite but Cowboy coach Mike Shinkle believes his J.V. team may help make the difference. The Cowboys' J.V. squad topped the Buckaroos at the Reser's Tournament of Champions in Hillsboro last month.
   "I think we have a strong J.V. team," he said. "Our depth in the past has pulled us through."
   The Cowboys have won nine of the last 10 district tournaments.
   Each team is allowed two wrestlers per weight class. The Cowboys have only one grappler for the 215-pound division and so will bring 27 to the tournament. Shinkle said his team will need a strong performance from each member to succeed.
   "We're going to have to win some matches we're probably not supposed to win," said Shinkle. "All 27 of our wrestlers are going to have to score some points."
   The first session is slated to begin at 11 a.m. Friday and will last through the day Friday and Saturday. The championship round is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday. The top three wrestlers from each division qualify for the 4A state tournament next weekend in Salem.
   "It's going to come right down to the wire," said Shinkle. "We're going to have to win some matches on pure toughness and guts alone."
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