Dallas opens lead in middle weight classes then withstands a Crook County rally to win Class 5A Championship

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jaxson Rhoden works to pin Cooper Hise of Dallas during the Oregon Wrestling Classic championship round. Rhoden, who normally wrestles 195 pounds, dominated the match, but the Cowboys fell to the Dragons 38-29 as Dallas took the tournament championship. The Crook County Cowboys survived a scare Friday morning against Crescent Valley as they won their pool at the Oregon Wrestling Classic, which was held Friday and Saturday in Redmond.

The Cowboys then rolled through the quarterfinals and semifinals, setting up a match with Dallas in the tournament finals.

"It's going to be a dogfight," Crook County head coach Jake Gonzalez said prior to the match.

That turned out to be true as Dallas opened up a big lead midway through the match, then withstood a late Crook County rally to take a 38-29 win over the Cowboys in the championship round.

"It doesn't matter what level we are wrestling in," Gonzalez said, referring to the Cowboys' recent move up to Class 5A from 4A. "We wrestle all the toughest schools. It's a battle, and we come here for a reason. We have a tough schedule, and our guys are tough. At the end of the day, this doesn't really mean that much. We are focused on the end of February."

In the finals, Tucker Bonner started things off for the Cowboys with a second-round fall over Royce Lavier at 106 pounds.

Dallas quickly tied the match when Cael Morrison pinned Tannon Joyner midway through the third round.

The Dragons then took the lead in the match as Hayden Millard took a 17-5 major decision over Steven Ware at 120 pounds.

Crook County regained the lead with a Hunter Mode pin of Dillon Stuhr just 43 seconds into the opening round.

When Zach Mauras took a 10-5 decision over Joseph Foster, the Cowboys had a 15-10 lead and looked like they were rolling.

However, Dallas dominated the middle weight classes.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Zach Mauras works to control Joseph Foster of Dallas. Mauras went on to win a 10-5 decision, but Dallas went on to defeat the Cowboys and win the championship.First, Kadin Thorsted pinned Gage Hanson, who was wrestling at 138 pounds because of a thumb injury suffered by Gage Perry Thursday night in the Mike Shinkle Memorial Duals. Perry still wrestled in the first round of the Oregon Wrestling Classic, but reinjured his thumb in Friday's opening round and was unable to wrestle the remainder of the tournament.

The pin of Hanson gave Dallas a 16-15 lead.

The Cowboys quickly regained the lead as Brayden Duke picked up a 5-2 decision over James Depas at 145 pounds, giving Crook County an 18-16 lead.

However, an 11-2 major decision by Colson Spencer over Benjamin Sather gave Dallas back the lead.

Consecutive pins by Jacob Jones over Gavin McLean and Jared Coxen over Garrett Bond gave Dallas a 32-18 lead.

Kyle Knudtson then started a Cowboy rally, earning a technical fall over Patrick Holgate at 182 pounds.

Needing pins to win the match, the Cowboys switched Hayden Hilderbrand to 195 pounds and moved Jared Rhoden up from 195 pounds to 220 pounds.

The strategy nearly worked as Hilderbrand held a 4-3 lead late in the third period of his match before losing 5-4 on a last-second takedown by Julian Tormis.

That pushed the Dallas' lead to 35-23, leaving the Cowboys needing pins at both 220 pounds and heavyweight to salvage a tie.

Despite wrestling nearly 40 pounds above his actual weight, Rhoden delivered, pinning Cooper Hise midway through the second round as the Cowboys closed to 35-29.

"I wrestle heavier guys in practice, so it evens out," Rhoden said. "I think I have a lot of advantages because I'm quicker, but I'm a lot lighter at the same time."

That left the entire match in the hands of two of the top heavyweights in the state.

Caleb Parrott of Crook County is currently ranked second in the state, while Ashton Brecht of Dallas is ranked third.

Needing a pin, Parrott attempted to throw Brecht early in the match. The strategy backfired as Brecht picked up a takedown.

Trailing 2-0, Parrott started the second round in the up position. He was able to hold Brecht down the entire period but was unable to score any points.

Parrott was up again at the start of the third period, but was once again unable to turn Brecht.

Parrott gave up an escape and once again looked for a throw.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Garrett Bond works to pin Crater's Logan Lowder in the semifinals at the Oregon Wrestling Classic. The third round was a wild scramble, with Brecht holding on to take an 8-3 decision as Dallas won the tournament with a 38-29 victory over the Cowboys.

Crook County reached the finals with wins over Eagle Point, 54-25, Hood River Valley, 73-6, Scappoose, 64-12, and a 40-39 victory over Crescent Valley in pool play.

Crook County and Crescent Valley were actually tied 39-39 at the end of the match, but the Cowboys were awarded a point for criteria in the tiebreaking formula.

Then, Saturday, the Cowboys rolled past Milwaukie 60-21 in the quarterfinals before whipping Crater 47-18 in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Dallas reached the finals with wins over North Eugene, 78-0, Ridgeview, 66-6, Milwaukie, 65-18, and Crater's JV team, 70-6, in pool play. Dallas then edged Crescent Valley 37-35 in the quarterfinals before dominating Pendleton 59-12 in the semifinals.

"We want to win every tournament we are in, but we came up a little short," Gonzalez said. "Sometimes that's how it goes. But 195 was a match that we could have won, that was back and forth, and then heavyweight."

Rhoden also believed that the dual was one that the Cowboys could have won.

"We need to work on just the basics," he said. "We did a lot of stuff that we don't coach in the room, which was not good. It was an eye opener for a lot of the team because they know tournaments, and they know how to get through the bracket themselves. Well, this is a team dual and you get through the bracket as a team. You need to think of the team when you wrestle. It should change your whole outlook. It's like a whole new world to wrestle."

Still, Rhoden believes that the loss will make the team better.

"We need to learn from it, and we will just keep going forward," he said.

In addition to the varsity team, Crook County's JV team also competed in the tournament and came away with a solid performance, finishing fourth in the Class 5A consolation bracket.

"Our JV battled tough this morning, and that's good," Gonzalez said Saturday night after the finals. "Overall, they are getting better, and that's a key. They are a huge part of our program, and they got six matches in, so that's good."

The JV team continued to show improvement throughout the day on Friday. After falling 58-3 to Redmond's varsity in the opening round of pool play, the Cowboys lost 63-9 to Crater, then stayed close for most of the match before falling 42-27 to Hillsboro.

Saturday in consolation play, the Cowboys lost a close match to Scappoose, 39-30. The Cowboys then rebounded to defeat Ridgeview 40-21 and Hood River Valley 45-36.

Gonzalez said that he was proud of both the varsity and JV team despite the varsity loss.

"We are just trying to get better every day, and we are getting better," he said. "Some of the younger guys are battling. They are a great group of kids that are training hard, and I'm proud of them."

The Cowboys will host Culver tonight in the annual Cowdog Classic. It's senior night with JV matches beginning at 6 p.m. and the varsity match to follow at approximately 7 p.m.

The Cowboys then travel to Hillsboro on Friday for the two-day Reser's Tournament of Champions, which features most of the top teams in the state regardless of classification.

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