Wrestling team, looking to improve on last season, competes in annual fundraising event

JASON CHANEY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Garrett Bond, of Team Blue, takes on Colton Schlachter in the 182-pound match. Bond would go on to win the match by fall.The Crook County High School wrestling team came up just short of its fifth-consecutive state championship last winter. This year, the Cowboys look to get back atop that mountain.

"We are obviously looking to improve," said Head Coach Jake Huffman, "and I think we have the team to do it,"

The Cowboys took early steps toward that improvement in front of a packed house Saturday evening at the Blue and Gold Scrimmage. Teammates squared off in an event that is designed to showcase the squad to the community and to raise funds for the upcoming season. It featured a meal prior to the wrestling action as well as a live auction where spectators bid on prize baskets between matches.

"Every year, people come out in droves and it is just really special, the love that they give our wrestling team, because it allows us to try to be our best," Huffman said. "We go to tournaments all over the country and we are able to do that because we get a lot of money raised at this and we have a community who loves wrestling and loves these kids — and that's what it's all about." Team Blue handily beat Team Gold by a 40-16 margin. Logan McClure pinned Victor Ramirez in their 152-pound match, Garrett Bond won with a pin of Colton Schlachter at 182 pounds, and Mario Hanson pinned Tank Thomasson in the 220-pound match.

Other wrestlers who came out on top were Hunter Mode with a major decision victory over Steven Ware at 106 pounds, and Zack Mauras defeating Kaden Bernard by technical fall in the 126-pound match. Colton Burkhardt bested Sage Harris in the 160-pound contest, winning by technical fall, and Kyle Knudson won a major decision over Wyatt Parker at 170 pounds.

Huffman expressed more interest in the effort the team put forth than the results on the scoreboard, and he was pleased to see them work hard

"At this point in the season, that is really what we are looking for is just good effort," he said. "Mistakes and all of that stuff will take care of itself throughout the season as it progresses."

Moving ahead, Huffman said the team still has a lot of work to do, but he said part of that has to do with some individuals setting some very lofty goals for this season.

"There are several weights where we are really young and don't have a lot of experience," he said, "but there are also some weights where we have some depth where you are going to see a couple of guys on the state podium at the end of the year."

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