Crook County hosts Roseburg in matchup of wrestling powerhouses
Saturday is a big day for wrestling in the state of Oregon.
Not to be politically incorrect, but it's Cowboys versus Indians.
That's right, for the fourth consecutive year, the Crook County Cowboys and the Roseburg Indians go toe to toe for Oregon dual meet bragging rights.
"We haven't beaten Roseburg in our gym yet," Crook County head coach Jake Huffman said of the match. "We went down there and thumped them the first year, and they came up here the second year and beat us in a close dual, and then last year, we went down there and they whipped us."
Since 2007 when the OSAA went from four to six classifications, Roseburg has enjoyed unprecedented success.
In those 11 years, the Indians have won nine state championships and added a second and a third.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys have had nearly as much success, picking up nine state tournament trophies in those 11 years, including four consecutive Class 4A championships and a second place last year.
"It should be a close match," Huffman said. "It will come down to bonus points and who wins the close matches. We have got to score bonus points when we can and stay off our backs. That's the bottom line."
If that were all that was happening, it would be a big day for wrestling, but there is so much more happening at Crook County High School on Saturday.
The day begins with a youth mat club tournament, which is expected to run from 9 a.m. to sometime around 4 p.m.
Following the mat club tournament, there will be a frenzy of activity.
First, all of the side mats used for the tournament have to be broken down and removed from the gym. Then, workers will rush to install a raised platform in the center of the gym, where the wrestling will take place later in the evening.
Beginning at 5 p.m. the wrestling squad will host a taco feed, followed by the high school wrestling action, which begins at 6 p.m. with the JV dual.
Typically, a JV dual doesn't bring much interest, but this dual is different. Both Roseburg and Crook County have several wrestlers competing at the JV level who placed at state a year ago.
"They have state placers, and we have state placers that are going to wrestle JV, so it's going to be tight," Huffman said.
The varsity match is scheduled to start at approximately 7 p.m. or shortly after the JV match concludes.
Sandwiched between the JV and varsity matches, the CCHS wrestling team is going to honor a pair of past CCHS wrestlers.
For years, school lore said that local resident Chuck Holiday was the first CCHS state placer. Recently, Holiday spent several hours at the Central Oregonian laboriously going through our archives.
While doing that, he discovered a pair of wrestlers who placed at state in 1956.
CCHS first started wrestling in the 1952-53 wrestling season. Four years later, at the 1956 state meet, a pair of Cowboys placed.
Richard Woods finished third at 166 pounds, while Ted Henry was fourth at 189 pounds.
Our archives say that they wrestled at 168 and 191 pounds, but according to Woods, they were given a 2-pound weight allowance at state, thus leading to the apparent discrepancy.
"We just want to honor them and recognize them at the beginning of the match and celebrate the history of our program," Huffman said.
Woods started wrestling almost by accident.
"I was going to be a basketball player," he said. "But in the eighth grade, we only had one game and then, when I was a freshman, I was going to be a basketball player, but we only had one game again."
Woods added that his brother and a friend had started wrestling, and one day they came home and showed him some wrestling moves.
"I used to be able to take care of them," Woods said. "But they took me down and everything, so I decided that I better start wrestling."
Woods started wrestling his sophomore year and earned his first trip to state in 1955 as a junior.
"Our program was just getting started, and our coaches didn't know much at all about wrestling," Woods said. "It took me a little bit to get started, but I took to it and enjoyed it, and I learned a lot."
His senior year, four individuals were in the finals at 166 pounds. Woods lost a close match in overtime to a wrestler from Sweet Home when that wrestler earned an escape in overtime.
He was scheduled to wrestle a Medford wrestler for third place. However, that match never took place as the other wrestler forfeited the match.
"We went over to the desk where the officials were, and one of the officials said, 'Are you Woods?'" said Woods, who currently lives in Terrebonne. "I said yeah and he said, 'Well this kid is willing to concede the match to you, so if that's OK with you, you are our third-place wrestler,' and that's the way it went."
A wrestler from Canby went on to defeat the Sweet Home wrestler and win the championship at 166.
Woods said that he is honored that the team is recognizing him and his contribution to the school's storied wrestling history.
"Well I think it's pretty good," he said. "I feel good about it anyway."
The Central Oregonian was unable to reach Henry, who at last report lives in McMinnville, for comment.
The Central Oregonian archives give no information about Henry's results at state other than that he finished fourth.
Following the recognition and celebration of Crook County wrestling history, it will be time for the main event.
Both teams are keeping their lineups close to the vest, and according to Huffman, both teams may juggle their lineups.
"Both teams will put their best lineups out there to try to win the varsity dual," he said. "We might have to pull some JV guys and move our lineup around. Then again, we may not, so we will see."
For Roseburg, Cameron Cross is ranked 10th in Class 6A at 106 pounds. He is expected to go up against Hunter Mode, who is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A at the same weight class.
Steven Ware, of CCHS, is ranked eighth at the same weight.
Roseburg doesn't have a wrestler ranked at 113, while Tanner Joyner of CCHS is ranked fifth.
Who wrestles at 120 for both teams may be up in the air.
Hunter Sparks, of Roseburg, is ranked third at the weight but has been wrestling at 126 pounds. Crook County's Zachary Mauras is ranked second at the same weight but has also been wrestling at 126. Instead, the Cowboys have had Jace England, who is ranked 12th, wrestle at that weight class.
At 126, Thomas Spence is ranked eighth for Roseburg, while Pacer Quire is ranked second for Crook County. Should Quire wrestle Sparks, that could be a great match.
At 132, Crook County's Cole Morgan is ranked third, while Roseburg has Tristin David ranked fourth and Isaiah Hernandez ranked sixth.
At 138 pounds, Roseburg's Austin David is ranked fifth, while Tyler Fioravanti, of CCHS, is ranked third.
The Cowboys have no one ranked at 145, 152 or 160, while Roseburg's Colin Reitmann and Devin Folk are ranked eighth and 10th respectively at 145 pounds, Ethan Stoner is ranked fourth at 152 pounds, and Doran Gillespie is ranked seventh at 160 pounds.
That could give Roseburg the advantage in the middle weights. However, Turner Austin, Mason Cooley and Sage Harris all have varsity experience for the Cowboys.
In addition, Colton Burkhardt, who is ranked third at 170 pounds, wrestled at 160 at the Reno Tournament of Champions.
At 170, Crook County's Kyle Knudtson is ranked No. 1, while Roseburg's Garrett Russell is ranked third.
182 may feature third-ranked Jaxson Rhoden, of CCHS, against ninth-ranked Logan Folsom.
At 195, Brandon Jeffers, of Roseburg, is ranked second, while no Cowboys are ranked. Garrett Bond has been wrestling at 195 for CCHS so far this year.
220 should be another tight match with Terrell Jacks, of Roseburg, ranked No. 5, and Crook County's Mario Hansen ranked seventh.
Crook County should have the advantage at heavyweight with second-ranked Caleb Parrott expected to go up against unranked Cayden Gingery, of Roseburg.
If past duals between the two teams are any indication, there should be a packed house for the event, so plan on getting there early if you want a good seat.
"I don't know how the day could get any fuller," Huffman said of all the wrestling events on Saturday. "We beat them at the Coast Classic, but they finished ahead of us at Reno. It's going to be crazy, but that's the way it is when it's Cowboys and Indians."