When the Intermountain Conference Wrestling Tournament begins on Friday afternoon in Pendleton, the Crook County Cowboys will be the prohibitive favorites.
The Cowboys have easily won dual meets against every team in the conference except for The Dalles/Dufur.
Although dual meet victories and individual tournaments are very different, the Cowboy dominance in dual meets should be a precursor of how the district meet should go.
In their closest league dual, the Cowboys defeated Redmond 49-22, while the Cowboy JV edged the Panther JV squad 38-25. Redmond's varsity later defeated the Crook County JV squad 58-3.
The Cowboys steamrolled Pendleton 69-9 and rolled past Hood River Valley 73-6.
The Crook County JV team also defeated the Hood River Valley varsity squad, taking a 45-36 win.
Ridgeview did not wrestle the CCHS varsity team, but did fall to the Cowboy JV team 40-21.
With Pendleton, Redmond, Hood River Valley and Ridgeview all defeating The Dalles/Dufur, they should not present a team challenge at the district meet.
Although the Cowboys have shown themselves to be dominant all year, the team has had more than its share of injuries during the season, and those injuries could play a major role in the final outcome of the IMC championships.
Mario Hanson, who was favored to win the league 220-pound weight class, is definitely out for the district meet, as are 120-pounder Trevor Martin and 138-pounder Gage Perry.
Jaxson Rhoden (195) was expected to be back from a recent injury but has been suspended for disciplinary reasons.
The remainder of the Cowboy squad is expected to be ready to go by the time wrestling starts Friday afternoon.
How the Cowboys will ultimately fare as a team may largely be decided by which wrestlers are at full strength in time for the district meet.
Redmond and Pendleton are the other teams to watch for at district.
The Panthers are ranked sixth in one poll and eighth in the other, while the Buckaroos are ranked eighth and ninth.
Although they are not in the top 10, Hood River Valley also received votes and is currently ranked 11th.
Four wrestlers from each weight class will qualify for the state championships. With three teams ranked in the top 10 at the state level, berths will be at a premium.
The goal for Crook County is to put as many wrestlers as possible on the bus to the state tournament.
Prior to the injuries, the Cowboys were expected to enter 27 or 28 wrestlers at district. Despite the injuries, Crook County will still enter 25 wrestlers, still making them the largest contingent of wrestlers at the district meet.
The Cowboys have 11 wrestlers who are expected to compete and are currently in the state rankings and have several other competitors with a legitimate chance to reach the state tournament.
Pendleton currently has 12 ranked wrestlers, while Redmond has nine, Hood River Valley five, Ridgeview three, and The Dalles/Dufur one.
The Cowboys started the season with one of, if not the most, dominant teams in the state.
However, in recent weeks, Crook County has had a rash of injuries that have depleted the roster.
Still, in spite of the injuries, the Cowboys have narrowly held on to their Class 5A first-place ranking.
The Cowboys are expected to qualify at least 14 wrestlers for the state meet and could easily have as many as 20 finish in the top four at district.
At 106, the Cowboys will enter junior Tannon Joyner and freshman Tucker Bonner.
Joyner enters the district meet ranked second in the state with an 18-7 record and 15 pins. Meanwhile, Bonner is ranked third in the state and sports a 29-7 record with 18 pins.
Both Joyner and Bonner are expected to qualify for state.
At 113 pounds, sophomore Steven Ware and freshman Mitch Warren will represent Crook County.
Ware is currently ranked sixth in the state and has a 24-15 record, despite spending most of the season wrestling above his weight. Ware has 13 pins on the year. Warren has spent most of the season wrestling for the Cowboy JV team at 106 pounds. He heads into district with an 18-8 record.
Ware should easily qualify for the state meet, while Warren would be a long shot. However, with several IMC teams not expected to enter wrestlers at 113 pounds, Warren still has a shot to advance.
Competing at 120 pounds will be Jace England and Trentyn Maryanski. England, a junior, has been injured for much of the season. He heads into district with a 12-7 record, while Maryanski, a freshman, enters the meet with a 10-6 record.
Both wrestlers have a solid chance to advance to state, although 120 pounds may be one of the tougher weight classes in the district.
Wrestling at 126 pounds will be No. 1-ranked Hunter Mode and Conner Rash.
Mode, a junior, has a 36-3 record with 26 pins, while Rash, a sophomore, enters district with a 11-11 record.
Mode is the closest thing to a sure bet to return to the state meet, while Rash is a long shot. However, at last report, there are only seven wrestlers entered in the meet at 126 pounds, six of which are ranked, so anything can happen.
The Cowboys will enter juniors Zach Mauras and Mason Clark at 132 pounds.
Like Mode, Mauras is ranked No. 1 in the state. He has a 30-5 record with 20 pins. Meanwhile, Clark, who wrestled at 126 pounds most of the season, has just a 7-18 record.
Despite coming off an injury, Mauras should easily qualify for the state meet, while Clark is a long shot.
At 138 pounds, Crook County will be represented by freshman Gage Hanson and sophomore Alex Vail.
Hanson enters the district meet with a 14-17 record, while Vail finished the regular season with a 19-11 record. With perhaps just two ranked wrestlers competing at 138 pounds, the weight class could be wide open.
Representing Crook County at 145 pounds will be a pair of freshmen. Brayden Duke has wrestled varsity all season, compiling a 20-14 record, mostly while competing at 152 pounds. Duke just recently earned a spot in the Class 5A rankings and is currently ranked seventh at 138 pounds. Victor Rodriguez missed much of the season and finished the year with just a 13-8 record.
Based on rankings, Duke is the favorite to win the weight class, however, there are at least two more ranked wrestlers competing at 145. With limited experience, Rodriguez would be a long shot to advance.
Competing at 152 pounds will be sixth-ranked Ben Sather, a sophomore, and senior Elijah Becker. Sather has wrestled varsity all season and has compiled a 15-15 record.
Although he has wrestled JV all year, because Crook County has entered their JV team in multiple varsity tournaments, Becker does have plenty of varsity experience. Competing in the first district meet of his career, Becker has a solid 20-12 record.
Sather is the highest-ranked wrestler at 152 pounds in the district, however, with five ranked wrestlers, the division could be hotly contested.
At 160 pounds, the Cowboys will be represented by freshman Gavin McLean and junior Clayton Berman.
McLean recently moved into the state rankings, where he is 16th at 152 pounds. He has a 20-16 record but does have a win against Redmond's Clayton Elrod, who is ranked fourth in the state. Berman enters the meet with a 14-14 record.
Both McLean and Berman have a chance to reach the state meet as just three ranked wrestlers are expected to compete in the weight class.
Wrestling for Crook County at 170 pounds are senior Garrett Bond and sophomore Gabe Saenz. The weight class is one of just three that is expected to have full 12-man fields, so it could be tough to advance out of district. However, Bond has come on strong late in the season and has moved up to 10th in the state rankings. He has an 18-14 record with 11 pins.
Saenz has also shown improvement late in the season and enters district with a 22-14 record and could surprise.
The Cowboys will enter junior Kyle Knudtsonat 182 pounds.
Knudtson is one of the most dominant wrestlers in the state. Ranked No. 2 at 170 pounds, he has an impressive 38-4 record with 31 pins.
Knudtson is expected to easily roll through the field to reach the state tournament, while Schlachter is probably a long shot.
With Rhoden not competing at district, the Cowboys originally did not enter anyone in the 195-pound weight class. However, Thursday night the team moved Colton Schlacter from 182 pounds to 195 pounds. Schlachter, who is unranked, finished the year with a 16-12 record.
Sophomore Hayden Hilderbrand, who replaced Mario Hanson in the varsity lineup midway through the season, only to be injured himself, is expected to return in time for the district meet. He will be the Cowboys' lone entry at 220 pounds and currently has an 8-14 record. However, Hilderbrand was wrestling well immediately prior to his injury, and based on the other wrestlers from the IMC who are expected to compete in the weight class, he has a good chance of punching a ticket to the state meet.
The final two Cowboys entered in the district meet are senior Caleb Parrott and junior Tanklin Thomasson.
Parrott is currently ranked third in the state at 285 pounds and has an impressive 31-6 record with 22 falls. Meanwhile, Thomasson, who will also compete at 285 pounds, has just a 6-8 record, but has wrestled well late in the season. With just six wrestlers expected to compete at heavyweight, both Parrott and Thomasson both have a great chance to advance to the state meet.
The Panthers are once again one of the better teams in the state.
Redmond has a deep squad, with talent throughout the lineup.
The Panthers are led by five wrestlers who are ranked fourth or higher.
Kagen Lawrence, a junior, who is expected to wrestle 113 pounds, has a 42-4 record with 22 falls and is ranked second in the state.
Senior Jacob Curry, who could wrestle either 138 or 145, has a 38-7 record with 22 falls and is ranked third at 138.
Fellow senior Clayton Elrod could wrestle either 160 or 170 pounds. He is ranked fourth at 160 pounds and has earned a 34-11 record with 19 pins.
Logan Hill, a freshman, has a 25-16 record at 106 pounds, where he is ranked fifth, while senior Trae Bolken, who is ranked fourth at 132 pounds, could wrestle either 132 or 138 and has a 30-7 record.
Other ranked Panthers include sophomore Justin Garcia, who is ranked eighth at 182 pounds. Garcia recently dropped to 160 pounds and has a season record of 16-10.
Junior Austin Anderson is ranked eighth at 126 pounds with a 28-11 record, while sophomore Kole Davis is ranked 10th at 120 pounds and has a 9-2 record.
The final ranked Panther is sophomore Austin Carter, 22-10, who is currently ranked eighth at 170 pounds.
Other Panthers of note include freshman Josh Trueax, 3-11, who recently moved into the varsity lineup at 126, Junior Downing, a freshman, 36-11 at 132 pounds, junior Riley Wood, 11-22 at either 145 or 152 pounds, senior Elijah Monson, 6-6 at 152 pounds, junior Carlos Corrales-Bazan, 11-20 at 160 pounds, sophomore Wyatt Berkham, 17-9 at 170 pounds, freshman Logan Willett, 13-14 at 170 pounds, senior Gabe Caudell, 10-23 at 195 pounds, and senior Dillon Young, 12-19 at 220 pounds.
The Panthers may also enter several other wrestlers who have limited chances to place but could fill roster spots.
Those wrestlers may include freshman Tyler Snair, 4-11 at either 106 or 113, sophomore Landon Nothiger, 9-16 at 113, junior Dakota Doescher, 14-14 at 138, junior Michaelo DeGross, 14-19 at 138 or 145, sophomore Zachary Anderson 7-12 at 160, and sophomore Kenyth Kettle, 11-21 at heavyweight.
The Buckaroos did not look good when they wrestled the Cowboys at the Mike Shinkle Memorial Duals, immediately prior to the Oregon Wrestling Classic.
However, Pendleton took a top four finish at the Oregon Wrestling Classic, finishing ahead of Redmond.
Although they have limited depth, the Buckaroos have strength throughout their lineup.
Leading the way for Pendleton are a pair of outstanding wrestlers.
Senior Alex Rendon has an impressive 44-3 record with one of those losses coming in a 7-2 decision to Crook County's Mauras.
Rendon, who is expected to compete at 126 pounds at the district meet, has amassed 33 pins during the season and has not been pinned himself all year.
He is currently ranked second to Crook County's Mode at 126 pounds.
Although his record is not as impressive, Isaac Urbina, a sophomore, is also expected to be a factor at the district meet.
Wrestling at either 160 or 170 pounds, Urbina sports a 37-9 record with 25 falls. Urbina is currently ranked fourth at 160 pounds.
The Buckaroos have several other wrestlers of note.
Freshman Collin Primus, who is ranked 11th at 106 pounds, sports a 28-15 record with 14 falls.
Caleb Tremper, a senior, is ranked 14th at 120 pounds and has a 27-15 record with 17 pins.
Chris Chambers, a 132-pound senior, has a 36-13 record with 16 falls. Chambers is ranked sixth at 138 pounds.
At 145 pounds, the Buckaroos have senior Blake Davis, who has a 25-17 record with 10 pins. Davis is currently ranked ninth.
At 152 pounds, expect to see both Kyle Liscom, a freshman, and Shawn Yeager, a senior. Liscom has an 11-9 record and is ranked 15th, while Yeager is 26-9 and ranked 10th.
Wrestling at either 160 or 170 pounds, senior Aiden Patterson has compiled an 18-9 record with 15 pins. Patterson is currently ranked seventh at 170 pounds.
In the upper weight classes, the Buckaroos have senior Kirk Liscom, 26-18, who is ranked ninth at 182 pounds. However, Liscom could choose to compete at 195 pounds.
Aiden Henderson, another senior who will wrestler at either 195 or 220, is ranked fifth in the state at 195 and sports a 30-16 record.
The final ranked Buckaroo is junior Travis McGee, who has a 16-8 record at heavyweight and is currently ranked seventh.
Other wrestlers of note include freshman Kellen Hanson, 113, 30-17, freshman Gabe Browning, 120, 17-15, senior Ian Bannister, 182, 10-6, and freshman Jacob Griffin, 220, 17-24.
As the host team, the Buckaroos are expected to fill as many roster spots as they can. As a result. Pendleton may also enter senior Morgan Verdin, 1-6 at 152, senior Josh Whaley, 12-10 at 160 or 170, freshman Patrick Simpson, 2-6 at 182, junior Will Glover, 5-6 at 220, and sophomore Jordan DeGeer, 3-10, who could wrestle at either 220 or heavyweight.
Hood River Valley
The Eagles have a lot of wrestlers on their roster but only a few with significant experience.
Of that group, just five are ranked. Realistically, the Eagles are not going to be a factor in the team championship and are unlikely to qualify more than five or six wrestlers for the state championships.
Still, the Eagles have a pair of wrestlers to watch for.
Junior Chade Muenzer has an impressive 29-3 season record and is ranked second, only to Mauras of Crook County, at 132 pounds.
Of his 29 wins, 23 are by fall and another is by technical fall.
The second Hood River Valley wrestler to watch for is senior Ryan Zeller, who is ranked fourth at 126 pounds. Zeller sports a 20-4 record with 15 falls.
Three other Eagle wrestlers could also impact the district championships.
Tristin Keeley, a senior, is ranked seventh at 152 pounds with a 19-17 record. He has 18 pins in his 19 victories. However, Keeley has been pinned 14 times in his 17 losses.
Senior Albert Rojas, who is expected to wrestle at 182 pounds, sports a 16-9 record, and is ranked 10th at 195.
The other Hood River Valley wrestler of note is freshman Jayton Muenzer, who is ranked 13th at 126 pounds with a with a 17-9 record.
Other Eagles who have at least an outside chance to reach the state tournament include junior Timothy Fletcher (18-17 at 170 pounds), junior Cody Durham, (13-14, heavyweight), sophomore Preston Armstrong (14-12, 145 pounds), and senior Clayton Morris-Reade, who currently has a 12-5 record at 182 pounds.
Other Hood River Valley wrestlers could include sophomore Miles Lee, 113, junior Aiden Sewell, 120, sophomore Kaden Shropshire, 132, junior Aiden McNair, 145, senior Benjamin Griggs, 160, junior Andrew McCreery, 170, junior Aaron Osborne, 170, junior Maverick Geller, 182, and sophomore Blake Willis, 220.
The Ravens may be short on numbers, but they have a core group of tough grapplers.
Leading the way for the Ravens is sophomore Cole Jackson, who is ranked sixth at 182 with a 35-6 record. Jackson also has 24 falls on the year.
Other ranked Ravens include freshman Daniel Jaramillo, ranked eighth at 145 pounds. Jaramillo last wrestled at 138 pounds and has a 20-15 record.
The final ranked Raven is freshman Joseph Martin, who is ranked ninth at 220 pounds with a 28-13 record.
Although not highly ranked, Martin does have 22 falls on the season.
Four other Ravens are also worth mentioning. They are junior Danny Comejo, 20-10 at 138 pounds, junior Orlando Frank, 4-6 at 145, sophomore Ethyne Reid, 15-9 at 152 pounds, and sophomore Logan Shenk, 22-15 at 195 pounds.
The Riverhawks have just one ranked wrestler, but he's really tough.
A senior, Jr Scott, who is expected to compete at 195, is currently ranked fourth at 182 pounds. Scott sports a 29-6 record with 23 falls.
Other wrestlers expected to compete for the Riverhawks at district include freshman Conor Blair, 4-9 at 106 pounds, freshman Angel Oregon, 4-13 at 113 pounds, senior Andrew Richman, 15-11 at 138 pounds, junior Ben Nelson, 4-14 at 145 pounds, senior Austin Greene, 13-12 at 152 pounds, junior Steven Preston, 21-6 at 160 pounds, junior Opath Silapath, 13-12 at 170 pounds, and junior Miguel Torres, 8-16 at 220 pounds.
All tournament brackets will be 16-man seeded brackets. However, no brackets will have more than 12 wrestlers, and some could have as few as five or six, leaving wrestlers with lots of byes in the early rounds.
That means that early in the tournament on Friday, competition could advance quickly.
Due to weather concerns, the district schedule was recently changed.
Wrestling begins at 4 p.m. on Friday and will continue through the semifinal rounds.
Saturday wrestling will begin at 9 a.m. starting with the consolation semifinals. Wrestling will continue throughout the morning and should be finished by early afternoon.
The state championships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22-23 in Portland.
Editor's note: All records and other information were taken from Trackwrestling.com. Records on Trackwrestling may not reflect all matches a wrestler has competed in. In addition, wrestlers may no longer be wrestling at the same weight class that they are listed at online.