Fifteen Culver wrestlers punch tickets to state
Culver bid farewell to Special District 3 last Saturday with a 17th consecutive district wrestling title at the 2A/1A level.
When the OSAA's reclassification takes effect in the fall of 2018, for the next four-year time block, the Bulldogs' district will likely look a lot different team-wise. They made sure their last SD3 district tournament was a memorable one.
With 15 Bulldogs advancing to the 2A/1A State Tournament, nine of whom won their brackets, Culver's 417 points were plenty good enough for first place at the tournament, which took place at Glendale High. Second-place Central Linn tallied 201 points, and Santiam placed third with 91 points.
District winners for Culver included Brody Piercy (106), Lorenzo Vasquez (120), Orlando Torres (126), Lane Downing (132), Jorge Olivera (145), Victor Torres (152), Jerron Rhen (160), Joey Navarro (182) and Cylus Hoke (195). Placing second for the Bulldogs were Jordan Piercy (106), Anthony Hood (113), Cooper Becker (132), Hunter Augustynovich (145), Joe Russo (170) and Martin Negrete (285). The top two placers in each weight class advanced to the Feb. 16-17 state tournament, held at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
"I think the Bulldogs left their mark," Culver head coach J.D. Alley said.
"Consistency is almost more important to me than top-end quality … I kind of think some of those teams wished us farewell yesterday and (were) glad to see us leave," Alley said with a laugh.
The number 15 is actually two greater than the Bulldogs had on last year's No. 10 Culver title team. That number is certainly an advantage to the team, Alley said, but they will need to compile some wins from their lesser-proven wrestlers.
Freshmen Brody Piercy, Jordan Piercy, and Anthony Hood, as well Downing, Augustynovich and Negrete will all be making their first appearances at state. But Culver also has several returning state champs and placers that the team knows it can count on
At the top of that list are Vasquez and Olivera, both of whom have won two straight state titles.
Vasquez, who hasn't lost a match in the state of Oregon this season, won all three of his matches by fall last weekend, against the likes of Central Linn's Tanner McMahon, North Lake's Wyatt Joye, and in the finals, Bonanza's Oak Tenold, who had a 20-5 record going into the match. Vasquez pinned him in 3 minutes, 24 seconds.
Vasquez acknowledged feeling a little more pressure as he goes for a third title in three high school seasons, but expects it won't be a distraction once state comes around.
Olivera's path to a title was a little easier, as he won by forfeit in the quarterfinals, before pinning Zach Mitchell of Santiam to reach the finals. He won by forfeit, over his teammate, Augustynovich, in the finals.
Following the Oregon Wrestling Classic Jan. 12-13, Olivera discussed with Alley about moving to the 145 class ahead of Reser's Tournament of Champions the following weekend. He needed to cut to 148 pounds, per the weight allowance. Once he was able to get there, it freed up Torres, Rhen and Russo to separate into different classes, making the team better suited for duals matches, and also avoiding the dreaded possibility of two teammates wrestling each other at state.
"I made sure I was eating right, working out right, and I mean, it worked out for the team pretty good," Olivera said. "We're pretty stacked from 120 all the way up to 170."
Victor Torres has qualified for state twice already, most recently finishing second at 170 last year. He dominated his 152-bracket last weekend, winning his first two matches by fall, then earned a technical fall over Santiam's Brody Davidson in the finals.
Culver's 126-pounder, Orlando Torres, won his second district title in as many years. He, like his older brother Victor, took second place at state last season as a freshman. But, having to follow that performance as a sophomore has been challenging at times, he said.
"At the start of the season, I wasn't really all there for wrestling," Orlando Torres said. "But, I've kind of found my place again, getting back into it more than I was."
The Bulldogs also returned one to the tournament after a two-year absence in Navarro, who qualified for state as a freshman and went two-and-out at the tournament. He chose not to compete in wrestling during his sophomore and junior years.
But in his last year of high school, Alley said the team "tricked him" into rejoining the team, and he stuck with it. Despite wrestling two classes up from his natural weight, he was still able to finish atop the 182 bracket, culminating with a win by fall over Central Linn's Tanner Reister in the finals.
All combined, the pieces are in place for the Bulldogs to contend for an 11th state title in 12 years.