Crook County wins state wrestling championship
After a close first day of wrestling at this weekend's OSAA Class 4A State Wrestling Championships in Portland, the Crook County Cowboys pulled away in the semifinal round and never looked back as they cruised to another state championship.
"We had a pretty good round," Crook County head coach Jake Huffman said after the Cowboys won seven of 11 semifinal matches to place seven wrestlers into Saturday's championship finals.
It is the fifth wrestling title in six years for the Cowboys, who avenged a one-half-point loss a year ago to the Sweet Home Huskies.
The Cowboys amassed 238.5 points during the two-day championships. Marshfield, which crowned five individual champions, finished a distant second with 155.5 points.
Although the Pirates were outstanding in the championship round, they just didn't have the depth to keep pace with the Cowboys, who by contrast had two individual champions.
However, Crook County had five seconds, a third, two fourths, and a fifth as 11 out of the 15 Cowboys who qualified placed at the tournament.
Sweet Home finished third with 146 points, while Cascade was fourth, 132, and Tillamook fifth, 131.5.
Rounding out the top 10 were La Grande, 124.5, Baker/Powder Valley, 111, Junction City, 74, Banks, 60.5, and North Marion, 56.
Hunter Mode started the championship round off for the Cowboys with a 15-0 technical fall over teammate Steven Ware at 106 pounds.
"Last year I fell short," Mode said referring to a second-place finish in 2017 as a freshman. "My goal was always to be a four timer, but now that I look back at it, having something to work towards made it a lot funner along the way. It really helped me to push myself more because I had been slacking, and it caught up to me, and I found out I had to pick it up."
Ware, who wrestles Mode nearly every day in practice, was pleased with his second-place finish.
"It means a lot to me as a freshman," he said of finishing second. "I didn't expect to make it this far, and it's cool."
Upstart Tannon Joyner, who reached the finals with an amazing third-round comeback in the semifinals, was unable to maintain the momentum as he was pinned by Marshfield's Kody Koumentis late in the second round of their 113-pound match.
In the semifinal round, Joyner trailed No. 1 seed Alex Kehr of La Grande 17 to 15 with under 30 seconds remaining and earned a reversal and a near fall with just seconds remaining in the match to score a 20-17 come-from-behind win.
"We talked about just keep wrestling the entire match, and Joyner proved that," Huffman said. "It doesn't matter how many points you are down or how many points you give up. If you continue to wrestle, guys get tired, guys make mistakes, and you give yourself an opportunity to win."
Joyner was disappointed that he was unable to defeat Koumentis, a second seed, but was pleased with his overall performance.
"I just didn't do good at the regional tournament, and I knew that, so I just was coming in here with a clean head," he said. "I thought that I had a pretty good tournament, and I think our team is doing great."
Pacer Quire won the Cowboys' second state championship moments later, pinning Siuslaw's Richard Huff midway through the second round of their 120-pound match.
Quire, who had placed third each of the previous two years, was excited that he had finally won an individual title.
"It feels really good to finally win," the senior said. "I've been chasing it for quite a few years now and keep coming in third, so to come and get first feels pretty good. I think I have matured a little more, and I kind of have a different outlook on things. Leaving it all on the mat is the main thing."
The Cowboys almost crowned another individual champion just minutes later as Zachary Mauras looked like he might win his 13- pound match against Cascade's Kane Nixon until the last second.
Tied 7-7, Mauras looked like he was going to get an escape with approximately 30 seconds remaining in the match. That would have given the sophomore an 8-7 lead and a possible championship. Instead, Mauras gambled, trying to get a reversal. The gamble failed as Nixon was able to put Mauras on his back and get a late pin for the victory.
The remaining two Cowboy finalists were Kyle Knudtson at 170 pounds and Jaxson Rhoden at 182 pounds.
Knudtson, who was the No. 2 seed entering the tournament, ran into undefeated and four-time state champion Travis Whittlake in the finals, where he was pinned early in the second round.
Whittlake, who lost just one match his entire high school career, is ranked No. 3 in the world, and No. 1 in the country.
"It means a lot to finish second, not only because I'm a sophomore but because it helps our team," Knudtson said. "It means that I'm one step closer to fulfilling my dream of being a state champion. Wrestling him is definitely different from wrestling somebody that is still at the high school level, because he's wrestling like a college wrestler already. He's really tough, but someday when he wins an NCAA title, I'm going to be able to say that I wrestled him."
Whittlake pinned Knudtson three times this season in three meetings between the two wrestlers, but Knudtson said that he learned a lot from the experience.
"I know that just in the three times that I've wrestled him this season, he's made me a ton better," he said.
Rhoden, who had a disappointing regional tournament, finishing third, wrestled much better at state, reaching the finals with a 5-0 decision over Matt Carrillo of North Marion.
Rhoden struggled early in the finals against Elijah Livingston of La Grande, falling behind 7-0 in the first round. The two wrestlers remained even the remainder of the match with Livingston finally taking a 13-6 victory.
"I felt just a release from not doing very good at districts to coming here at state and taking it one match at a time," Rhoden said. "The hard work — you don't know it until you go to state and all the kids are tired, and you are still going because you worked for it so hard. I'm a little disappointed, I should have won, but second place is good for a junior. It gives me confidence for next year."
Other Cowboys to place at the tournament included Trevor Martin, fifth at 113, Tyler Fioravanti, third at 138, Colton Burkhardt, fourth at 160, and Caleb Parrott, fourth at 285.
"It was great to end with a fall and finish my season on a positive note," said Martin, a freshman. "My semifinal didn't go the way that I wanted it, but you just have to come back and do the best that you can. I'm going straight into freestyle, and I'm going to meet some of these kids there, so I just have to come back with more vengeance."
Fioravanti, a senior, would also like to have reached the championships but was still pleased with how he performed.
"I'm happy with how my season went because I did my best and that's all I can ask for, win or lose," he said. "There will always be people better than you, but it's your determination level that can change it. I'm super proud of my team and excited to watch them wrestle next year."
Burkhardt was initially disappointed that he didn't place higher but still wrestled above where he was seeded entering the tournament.
"It feels pretty good to be back on top were we belong," the junior said of the team's performance. "I was disappointed when I lost in the quarterfinals, but I feel pretty good. It's probably the best tournament that I have wrestled so far this year, so it feels pretty good to finally place."
Parrott was disappointed with where he placed. The junior entered the tournament with the second seed and cruised into the semifinals. However, he was pinned by eventual champion Adam Lamb of Cottage Grove in the semis.
Parrott got back on track, defeating Dallas Lamphere of Henley to reach the third place match, where he lost to Antonia Sanders of Ontario.
"It's all good," he said following the tournament. "We worked really hard for what we have, and if feels good to be back at number one as a team."
Four other Cowboys also competed in the tournament.
Tucker Shores, 132, Mario Hanson, 220, and Cal Wilcox, 220, all lost their first two matches and were eliminated from the tournament.
For Cole Morgan, 132, the outcome was much more disappointing.
Morgan, who entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, pinned Bryce Olsen of Sutherlin 56 seconds into the first round of the opening match of the tournament.
Then in the quarterfinals, Morgan lost an 8-4 decision to Chad Werner of Tillamook, who he had defeated a week earlier at regionals.
In the consolation rounds, Morgan held a 3-2 lead over Sean McColly of Tillamook when he was called for unnecessary roughness.
McColly was awarded a point, which would have been the end of the matter, but the Tillamook wrestler was unable to continue, so by rule Morgan was disqualified.
The irony of the unnecessary roughness call was that McColly had done exactly the same move to Morgan 30 seconds earlier and nothing had been called.
Morgan, a senior, did nothing illegal on the move, but the referee determined that it was unnecessary after he saw that McColly was injured.
"It was a controversial call, and he was unfortunately disqualified," Huffman said. "I feel bad for a guy like Cole who does everything right. But this is just a little setback, and he's going to be a successful person in life, so this is nothing. He's going to be great. He's got great character, so I'm just proud of the person that he is."
Both the Cowboys and Huffman were pleased with how well the team performed at state. Huffman has been saying all year that the team still hasn't wrestled their best, but after Saturday's finals, he was pleased with the team's performance.
"We knew that if we took care of business, there was nothing that anyone else could do to stop us," said Huffman who was named Class 4A Coach of the Year. "The kids gave a great effort, and that's all you can ask. I'm extremely proud of the Cowboys, and I'm glad we brought the title back to Crook County."
Martin was relishing the feeling of winning the first team state championship in his high school career.
"The atmosphere for the team is amazing, and we really love each other," he said. "We are a tight-knit team, and we all work our butts off, and it paid off here."
"Winning state was awesome," Rhoden added. "We knew that it was going to happen no matter what. Everyone believed in each other and that we could get it done and we did."
OSAA Class 4A State Wrestling Championships
Friday and Saturday, February 16-17 in Portland
Team scores — 1. Crook County, 238.5. 2. Marshfield, 155.5. 3. Sweet Home, 146. 4. Cascade, 132. 5. Tillamook, 131.5. 6. La Grande, 124.5. 7. Baker/Powder Valley, 111. 8. Junction City, 74. 9. Banks, 60.5. 10. North Marion, 56. 11. Molalla, 52.5. 12. McLoughlin/Weston McEwen, 43.5. 13. Henley, 39. 13. Scappoose, 39. 15. Gladstone, 36. 17. Cottage Grove, 34. 18. Ontario, 31. 19. Madras, 28. 20. Mazama, 2. 20. Siuslaw, 24. 22. Philomath, 18. 23. North Bend, 17. 24. Klamath Union, 16. 25. Phoenix, 15. 26. Sutherlin, 26. 26. Yamhill-Carlton, 14. 28. Hidden Valley, 13. 28. North Valley, 13. 30. Douglas, 12. 31. Newport, 9. 32. Elmira, 7. 33. South Umpqua, 4. 34. Sisters, 2. 35. Astoria.
106 — 1. Hunter Mode, Crook County. 2. Steven Ware, Crook County. 3. Evan Potter, Junction City. 4. Keegan Hagerty, Tillamook. 5. Cameron Truesdell, Junction City. 6. A.J. DeGrande, Scappoose.
113 — 1. Kody Koumentis, Marshfield. 2. Tannon Joyner, Crook County. 3. Alex Kehr, La Grande. 4. Quintin Metcalfe, Tillamook. 5. Trevor Martin, Crook County. 6. Johnny Niehaus, Baker/Powder Valley.
120 — 1. Pacer Quire, Crook County. 2. Richard Huff, Siuslaw. 3. Alex Duran, Baker/Powder Valley. 4. Isaiah Franco, Klamath Union. 5. Bryce Porter, Sweet Home. 6. Jack Wick, Banks.
126 — 1. Kane Nixon, Cascade. 2. Zachary Mauras, Crook County. 3. Maximus Tate, Molalla. 4. Jackson Royer, Sweet Home. 5. Colton Anderson, Baker/Powder Valley. 6. Anthony Rath, Philomath.
132 — 1. Russel Stigall, North Marion. 2. Chad Werner, Tillamook. 3. Noah Thompson, Cascade. 4. Coltyn Ringen, North Bend. 5. Christian Garfield, North Valley. 6. Elijah Banister, Baker/Powder Valley.
138 — 1. A.J. Lira, Marshfield. 2. Brandon Gibson, North Marion. 3. Tyler Fioravanti, Crook County. 4. Travis Thorpe, Sweet Home. 5. Zach Chrisman, McLoughlin/Weston McEwen. 6. Justin Kurtz, Sweet Home.
145 — 1. William Jantzer, Marshfield. 2. Kade VanDeHey, Cascade. 3. Ryan Mount, Molalla. 4. Ricky Yunke, Sweet Home. 5. Ben Pruitt, Molalla. 6. Anthony Kraan, Henley.
152 — 1. Garrett Lefebvre, Marshfield. 2. Parker Robinson, La Grande. 3. Justin Drury, Estacada. 4. Austin Weeks, Tillamook. 5. Boe Baxter, Sweet Home. 6. James Howell, Philomath.
160 — 1. Clay Keller, Baker/Powder Valley. 2. Nathan Reed, La Grande. 3. Braydon Wright, Mazama. 4. Colton Burkhardt, Crook County. 5. Martin Sierra, Henley. 6. Caleb Werner, Tillamook.
170 — 1. Travis Wittlake, Marshfield. 2. Kyle Knudtson, Crook County. 3. Christopher Woodworth, La Grande. 4. Jack Eggers, Scappoose. 5. Nich James, Sweet Home.
182 — 1. Elijah Livingston, La Grande. 2. Jaxson Rhoden, Crook County. 3. Draco Yandell, Estacada. 4. Fabian Niemi, Tillamook. 5. Zeddy Jamerson, Scappoose. 6. Matt Carrillo, North Marion.
195 — 1. James Ellis, Banks. 2. Harrison Manu, Madras. 3. Bryce Coulter, Sweet Home. 4. Tyler Morris, Junction City. 5. Jacob Wanlass, Gladstone. 6. Dustin Brown, Hidden Valley.
220 — 1. Louie Sanchez, Cascade. 2. Macoy Christman, Cascade. 3. Austin Heywood, Gladstone. 4. Spencer Wells, McLoughlin/Weston McEwen. 5. Brendan Dreyer, Banks. 6. Andrew Smalley, Sutherlin.
285 — 1. 1. Adam Lamb, Cottage Grove. 2. John Dover, Junction City. 3. Antonio Sanders, Ontario. 4. Caleb Parrott, Crook County. 5. Dallas Lamphere, Henley. 6. Maxwell Merritt, Banks.