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Crook County wins 10 of 14 matches en route to a 53-21 dual meet win over Redmond

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Brayden Duke works to turn Redmond's Rylon Lynch to his back during their 152-pound match Wednesday night. Duke won by fall in the first round as the Cowboys went on to take a 53-21 win over the Panthers in the Intermountain Conference dual. The Crook County Cowboys took care of business Wednesday night in their first home wrestling match of the year, dispatching the Redmond Panthers 53-21 in an Intermountain Conference dual meet.

"I think overall we competed very well — every kid in the lineup," said Crook County head coach Jake Gonzales. "That's what you want to see, so we just have to keep building and keep working, and I think we will be all right."

Wrestling started at 138 pounds, and Redmond took the early lead as Kole Davis pinned Crook County's Gage Perry in the second round.

The Cowboys quickly tied the match as Hunter Mode pinned Ryley Wood midway through the first round of their 145-pound match.

Then the Cowboys took the lead for good as Brayden Duke pinned Rylon Lynch, also in the first round, giving Crook County a 12-6 lead.

Ben Sather's major decision over Christian Ketchen at 160 pounds made the score 16-6. Then, Gavin McLean earned a fall over Wyatt Berkhem at 160 pounds and the Cowboys extended their lead to 22-6.

In one of the most highly anticipated matches of the evening, Crook County's Kyle Knudtson earned a 9-1 major decision over Redmond's Austin Carter.

It was the third time this year that the two have squared off. This past weekend at the Rollie Lane Invitational, Knudtson won with a late fall. However, Carter had led for the entire match with Knudtson and needed to get a reversal and put him on his back in the final 15 seconds to keep from dropping the match.

This time, Knudtson left no doubt, earning a takedown seconds into the opening round and totally controlling the pace of the match.

"I didn't wrestle my best when we were at the tournament," Knudtson said. "But kudos to him. He wrestled tough. He's working hard. He's making endless improvements. The difference is I went to Eastern (Oregon University) on a visit and I got a couple workouts in there and it really opened my eyes to a few more techniques that I need to work on. I came back in the room and I put those things into motion, and it paid off big for me tonight."

At 195 pounds, Gabe Saenz returned from a knee injury and immediately made his presence felt, earning a fall over Aiden Garcia midway through the second round.

"It's good to have a bigger guy back for sure," Gonzales said.

Saenz's fall gave the Cowboys a virtually insurmountable 32-6 lead.

However, as happens in all good rivalries, the Panthers tried to stage a comeback.

Blaine Aamott earned a 14-4 major decision over Crook County's Wyatt Holliday in a match that was not without controversy.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Kyle Knudtson turns Redmond's Austin Carter on his back during their 182-pound match on Wednesday. Knudtson went on to win a 9-1 major decision over Carter. The two wrestlers were scrambling for control late in the second round with Aamott leading just 4-2. Aamott then earned six more points in the final eight seconds of the round. The buzzer for the round sounded and the official did not hear it, allowing wrestling to continue. People threw their baseball caps onto the mat, attempting to get the ref's attention before coaches finally ran onto the mat to stop the action.

Aamott was awarded the points despite most of the action happening after the round should have been over.

The official discussed the scoring with the official timer, and the points were allowed to stand.

The win brought the Panthers to 32-10. When Jax Cummings pinned Crook County's Joseph Miller at 285 pounds, the Panthers still had hope, trailing just 32-16.

A Crook County forfeit at 106 pounds made the score 32-22 and put Redmond back into the match.

However, Crook County fans did not need to worry. The Cowboys closed out the match with four consecutive wins.

First, Tucker Bonner pinned Julian Gonzalez just a minute into the first round of their 113-pound match. Then Steven Ware defeated highly ranked Kagen Lawrence 4-2 at 120 pounds.

Although Ware is ranked second in the weight class and Lawrence is ranked fourth, Ware had never beaten Lawrence.

"We first wrestled when I was 11," Ware said. "And this is the first time I have beaten him. I know that they don't condition near as hard as us, so I know that in the third round no matter what the score is, he wasn't coming back. We beat our kids in the third round, not the first or second. Wrestling smart was important because that last round if I had tried to get into a scramble situation, he could have put me on my back and either tied the match or I go down one. Or even worse, I get pinned, so managing matches is one of the most important parts about wrestling, and I feel like I did that really well tonight."

Gonzales agreed.

"I told my kids it doesn't matter who you wrestle, underdog or not," he said. "According to the rankings they might be underdogs, but I tell the kids not to look at that, just go out there and wrestle. Steven wrestled good, and I don't think he ever beat that kid before, so I'm happy for him."

Ware's win made the score 41-22. Mathematically, Redmond had a chance to win the dual; however, immediately following Ware's win, Redmond lost a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct, guaranteeing the Cowboys would win the dual regardless of the outcome of the final two matches of the evening.

At 126 pounds, Zach Mauras earned five quick takedowns against Reeden Arsonault of Redmond, then pinned him midway through the first round to make the score 47-21.

In the first varsity match of his career, Wyatt Wood then pinned Michaelo DeGross of Redmond just 1:12 into their match to close out the dual.

The Cowboys also won the junior varsity match against the Panthers 22-12 as well as winning a pair of exhibition matches.

"I don't think anything came easy tonight," Knudtson said. "Our wins came with hard work in the wrestling room and practicing hard and everyone giving 110%. That's what made it look easy. But in all honesty, it wasn't as easy as it looked. Redmond wrestled tough."

All season Gonzales has been preaching improvement, and he was pleased with the performance he saw against the Panthers.

"Overall it was good," he said. "Managing our matches, we are getting better. We are sticking to the plan. It's always good if you win, so we will enjoy this for now, but we've got a big one on Saturday and then some more big ones next week, so we can't be complacent at all."

The big one that Gonzales is referring to on Saturday is a match against Class 6A Roseburg. The rivalry is one of the most hotly contested dual meets in the state each year. Roseburg comes into the match ranked second in Class 6A, with 17 wrestlers in the latest state rankings, including Nash Singleton, 120, Kahleb Diaz, 132, and Darian Thacker, 160, who are all ranked No. 1 in the state.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys have 13 ranked wrestlers, including Mode and Knudtson, who are ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes.

"Tough matches really show you what you need to work on," Knudtson said. "Anybody can be beat, and while you might be on a high horse because you are winning matches, even when you lose that's just something to learn from. It's not really a loss, because right now, it's just practice. Right now, all the tournaments we go to, all the dual meets, everything is just practice for the end of February at the state tournament."

Like Gonzales, Ware was excited about Saturday's match with Roseburg.

"Early in the year I was wrestling, but I wasn't wrestling to my full capability," he said. "Now I'm really wrestling and using my head and wrestling smart and tough. For the most part, everyone on our team is wrestling tougher and everyone is progressing at a very high pace. I feel very good, and I feel our team can compete well."

Saturday's match kicks off with a nacho feed beginning at 4:30 p.m. Cost for the feed is $7. Wrestling begins at 6 p.m. with the JV competition; varsity matches to follow.

Following Saturday's match, the Cowboys host the Mike Shinkle Memorial Duals on Thursday, then compete in the Oregon Wrestling Classic Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17-18, at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond.

Crook County 53, Redmond 21

(wrestling started at 138 pounds)

138 —Kole Davis, R, by fall over Gage Perry, CC, 3:07. 145 —Hunter Mode, CC, by fall over Riley Wood, R, 1:13. 152 —Brayden Duke, CC, by fall over Rylon Lynch, R, 1:12. 160 —Ben Sather, CC, MD over Christian Ketchen, R, 11-3. 170 —Gavin McLean, CC, by fall over Wyatt Berkhem, R, 3:27. 182 —Kyle Knudtson, CC, MD over Austin Carter, R, 9-1. 195 —Gabe Saenz, CC, by fall over Aiden Garcia, R, 3:44. 220 —Blaine Aamott, R, MD over Wyatt Holliday, CC, 14-4. 285 —Jax Cummings, R, by fall over Joseph Miller, CC, 1:51. 106 —Ansen Widing, R, wins by forfeit. 113 —Tucker Bonner, CC, by fall over Julian Gonzalez, R, 1:01. 120 —Steven Ware, CC, by decision over Kagen Lawrence, R, 4-2. 126 —Zach Mauras, CC, by fall over Reeden Arsonault, R, 1:15. 132 —Wyatt Wood, CC, by fall over Michael DeGross, R, 1:12.

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