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Crook County continues to rely on a handful of wrestlers for most of their team points

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Zach Mauras works to get a reversal during last year's state finals match. Mauras finished third at this weekend's Rollie Lane Invitationals, which was held in Nampa, Idaho.The Crook County Cowboys had another solid weekend of wrestling.

The Cowboys dispatched Pendleton 60-21 in a dual meet last Thursday, then wrestled to an eighth-place finish at the 79-team Rollie Lane Invitational, which was held Friday and Saturday in Nampa, Idaho.

"It was good," Crook County head coach Jake Gonzales said of the weekend's tournament. "It was a tough tournament. We battled and we had four placers. We obviously didn't wrestle that great, but guys are getting better."

The Cowboys juggled their lineup for Thursday's league dual with the Pendleton Buckaroos, holding some wrestlers out of the match and giving wrestlers who have mostly wrestled JV a chance to compete against a league rival.

The strategy worked well as the Cowboys took control early in the match and led the entire way.

Aaron Bowen started things off for the Cowboys with a pin of Roper Cartmell at 195 pounds, giving the Cowboys a 6-0 lead.

Pendleton's Jacob Griffin then defeated Hayden Hilderbrand 3-0 at 220 pounds as the Buckaroos closed to within three points.

Next, Crook County heavyweight Joseph Miller won by forfeit. However, the Cowboys returned the favor as Pendleton's Dawson Tremper won the 106-pound match by forfeit, making the score 12-9 for the Cowboys.

From that point on, it was all Cowboys.

Tucker Bonner won the 113-pound match by forfeit. Tannon Joyner then took the 120-pound match with a first-round fall. Zach Mauras kept things rolling with another first round fall at 126 pounds as the Cowboys stretched their lead to 30-9.

Pendleton finally won another match when Jack Lieuallen pinned Conrad Parker at 132 pounds, making the score 30-15.

However, Crook County quickly regained control of the match and left no doubt who the better team was as Hunter Mode, 145, Brayden Duke, 152, and Ray Solis, 160, all won by falls, giving the Cowboys a 54-15 lead.

When Gavin McLean won the 170-pound match by forfeit, the Cowboys held a dominating 60-15 lead.

Pendleton then won the final counting match of the evening as Isaac Urbina pinned Clayton Berman at 182 pounds to make the final score 60-21.

Following the conclusion of the dual the two teams also wrestled a pair of exhibition matches with Crook County's Mason Clark, 138, and Alexander Vail, 145, both picking up falls.

"They wrestled pretty well," Gonzalez said of the team's performance during the dual. "We got some different guys in the lineup and it was overall a good dual."

Then, over the weekend, the Cowboys were in the top 10 virtually the entire tournament at Rollie Lane but were never able to contend for the tournament championship.

Idaho schools swept the top five places in the tournament.

Kuna won with 189 points, while Post Falls was second with 171.5 and Couer d'Alene finished third with 147. Nampa took fourth place with 138 points, followed by Lakeland with 137.

Rounding out the top 10 were La Grande, 135.5, Mountain View, of Bend, with 134, Crook County, 128, New Plymouth, Idaho, 118, and Pasco, Washington, 104.5.

Crook County finished with four placers as Zach Mauras, 126, and Kyle Knudtson, 182, both picked up third-place finishes, while Steven Ware, 120, and Hunter Mode, 145, both finished in fourth place.

Mauras rolled to the semifinals with three falls and a major decision in the early rounds of the tournament, before falling to Q'Veli Quintanilla of Gonzaga Prep 8-4 in the semifinals.

Quintanilla went on to win the weight class, while Mauras took a 5-4 decision over Ryeker Andersen of Century in the consolation semifinals before pinning Alex Edelblute of Lakeland in the third-place match.

Knudtson also rolled through the quarterfinals, picking up three falls and a decision before falling to Nathan Reed of La Grande 6-5 in the semifinals.

Knudtson then edged MaHonri Rushton of Baker 5-3 in the consolation semifinals. He pinned Austin Carter of Redmond in the third-place match, which was much closer than the final result would indicate.

Knudtson trailed 6-4 late in the third period before earning a reversal to tie the match 6-6. Knudtson then pinned Carter with just six seconds remaining in the match.

Like Knudtson and Mauras, both Ware and Mode did not lose a match until the semifinals.

Ware won in sudden victory in the quarterfinals before getting pinned in the semifinal round. He rebounded to pin Dom Jessos of Couer d'Alene in the consolation semifinals, then dropped an 8-3 decision in the third-place match.

Mode picked up a pair of falls and a tech fall as he advanced to the semifinals. However, he was pinned by Preston Owens of Kuna in the semifinals. Mode then edged Nolan Randles of Couer d' Alene, 8-6, in the consolation semifinals before falling 5-3 to Beau Ohlson of Mountain View in the third-place match.

Several other Cowboys also had successful tournaments.

Wrestling at 113 pounds, Tucker Bonner just missed the placing rounds, going 3-2 in the tournament.

At 152 pounds, Ben Sather was pinned in his opening round match, then won four consecutive consolation matches before finally falling in the fifth round of consolation.

At 160 pounds, Gavin McLean finished with a 4-2 record, but also missed the placing rounds.

At 132 pounds, Trevor Martin finished with a 2-2 record but did pick up a pair of falls.

No other Cowboys who counted in the team scoring were able to win any matches. However, Crook County entered more than one wrestler in several weight classes. Although the additional wrestlers did not count in the team scoring several of them won matches at the tournament.

At 113 pounds, Cash Wells went 2-2, while Cutter Marsh was 2-2 at 120 pounds and Tannon Joyner went 1-2, also at 120 pounds.

Garrett Cob and Trentyn Maryanski both finished 2-2 at 126 pounds, while Brad McLean was 1-2 at 138 pounds and Alex Vail went 1-2 at 145 pounds.

Brayden Duke and Gage Hanson each finished with 3-2 records at 150 pounds, while Ray Solis was 1-2 at 160 pounds.

In addition, several of the Cowboys who lost in the early rounds of the tournament were able to pick up wins in the second chance tournament.

"They only got one extra match, though," Gonzales said. "But it was good to get those guys at least three or four matches. We could have gotten a better performance, but it's all right. We just have to keep getting better and keep working in the wrestling room."

The Cowboys entered 31 wrestlers in the tournament, but just 13 counted in the scoring.

Crook County has only fielded a 106-pounder for one tournament so far this year. In addition, Idaho also has a 98-pound weight class, which once again the Cowboys had no one entered in.

Crook County also failed to score a single point in any weight class above 182 pounds.

Historically the Cowboys have earned high places at tournaments by wrestling above their seeds and earning a lot of falls.

However, this year the team has struggled to pick up pins in big tournaments and have mostly been unable to wrestle above their seeds.

Although the Cowboys scored the second-most match points in the tournament, they were ranked just 15th for total pins, and not only were unable to wrestle above their seeds, the Cowboys were next to last out of the 79 teams when it came to seeding, wrestling six places below their projected seeds.

The end result is that the team is not picking up as many bonus points as some of the other teams.

The Cowboys had just 17 pins in the tournament, while Kuna, who finished first, had 34, and second-place Post Falls finished with 24.

Although the Cowboys may be finishing lower in tournaments than they have in the past couple of years, do not be deceived. Crook County is still a very strong wrestling team.

The Cowboys are ranked second to Crescent Valley in the latest Class 5A coaches' poll. In addition, if you add in the points scored by the team's No. 2 wrestlers, they would be near the top of the scoring.

Keep in mind that at both district and state, a team's No. 2 wrestlers do count in the scoring, so the Cowboys should be helped by their team depth in the middle weight classes.

Cowboy fans finally have a chance to see the team at home.

Crook County hosts eighth-ranked Redmond on Wednesday, with wrestling scheduled to start with JV action at 6 p.m. and the varsity match to follow.

The Cowboys are home again on Saturday when they take on the Roseburg Indians, ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, with JV matches once again starting at 6 p.m.

"We have those home matches coming up, so that will be good," Gonzales said. "Go Cowboys."

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