The annual Cowdog Classic is one of the most highly anticipated wrestling dual meets in the state.
The match pits two of the top teams in Central Oregon as the Class 2A Culver Bulldogs try to hang with the Class 5A Crook County Cowboys.
Usually the match is close. That wasn't the case Tuesday night. The Cowboys were in control from the start, rolling to a 70-4 victory over the Bulldogs.
"I think we wrestled good," said Crook County head coach Jake Gonzales. "Those guys are doing stuff they were shown in the mat room, so it's good. It's always good to get good competition because you can see where you can improve."
If Tuesday was any indication, the Cowboys, who are ranked second in Class 5A, are improving rapidly. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs, who are ranked first at the Class 2A level, were missing a couple of key wrestlers.
As a result, the match wasn't even close as Crook County won 13 of 14 matches, including eight by fall.
The action started with Mitch Warren, who has wrestled junior varsity much of the season, picking up a quick first-round fall over Culver's Debren Sanabria.
Tucker Bonner, who is ranked second in the state at 106 pounds, then defeated third-ranked Brody Piercy of Culver 15-5 in their 113-pound match, giving the Cowboys a 10-0 lead.
Steven Ware, who is ranked third in Class 5A at 120 pounds, then rolled past Noel Navarro, who is ranked second in Class 2A by a 16-3 score.
Next, Tannon Joyner, who is ranked sixth at 120 pounds, pinned Johan Jaimes of Culver midway through the second round, pushing the Cowboy lead to 20-0.
Zach Mauras, ranked third at 126 pounds, made quick work of his match against 10th-ranked Braeden Chapman, pinning the Culver wrestlers in the first round to extend the Cowboy lead to 26-0.
Culver scored their only points of the match at 138 pounds as No. 1-ranked Anthony Hood earned a 14-1 major decision over Mason Clark.
Even that match was something of a victory for the Cowboys. The Cowboys' normal 138-pounder, Hunter Mode, who is ranked No. 1 at the weight class in Class 5A, moved up to 145 for the night.
His normal replacement, Jace England, was given the night off, taking the Cowboys down to their third wrestler at the weight class. When Gage Perry missed weight, by a couple of ounces, Clark replaced him.
Clark had previously been pinned by Hood in the first round at the Culver Invitational. However, Tuesday night Clark was not going to be pinned. Although Hood was in control for much of the match, he had to work for every point he earned as Clark went the distance.
"Mason got thrown in there, and he competed hard with one of their better kids," Gonzales said. "He got pinned pretty quick at the Culver Invite and tonight he battled, so it shows me that we are getting better. We just have to continue to improve."
The rest of the night was all Cowboys.
Mode's match at 145 was expected to be the highlight of the evening. He was set to wrestle Class 2A No. 1-ranked Lane Downing. However, the Culver senior had a minor injury and was unable to wrestle.
Instead, Mode wrestled Gabe Wilson, taking him down nine times in the first round before picking up a reversal and a quick fall in the second round to push the Cowboy lead to 32-4.
Brayden Duke, who is ranked fourth at 145 pounds, then made quick work of his match with Cyrus Mathews, picking up a second-round pin to push the score to 38-4.
Then came what was expected to be another hotly contested match. Crook County's Ben Sather, ranked fourth in 5A, was expected to take on Isaiah Toomey, ranked second in Class 2A. However, like Downing, Toomey was injured and unable to wrestle.
Instead Sather took on fourth-ranked Hunter Augustynovich and blanked the Culver wrestler, picking up a 14-0 major decision.
"We performed good," Sather said. "Last year I only won 5-2, and this year I performed way better and got a major decision, so I'm making progress."
Gavin McLean, who is ranked fourth at 160 pounds in Class 5A, then bumped up to 170 pounds, pinning Nicolas Navarro, who is ranked 12th at 182 pounds in Class 2A.
Much of the early part of the Cowboy lineup moved up a weight class. However, Gonzales said that was by design.
"Some of the guys are having to watch what they eat in some of those weights, so I'm giving them a break so they don't have to make their normal weight class," he said. "We've got Reser's (Tournament of Champions this weekend in Hillsboro), so it's just to make some of those guys feel better."
With Navarro moving down to 170 pounds, the Cowboys' Kyle Knudtson picked up a forfeit at 182 pounds, pushing the Cowboy lead to 54-4.
Gabe Saenz, who has moved rapidly up the rankings in the past month and is now ranked fourth at 195, then made light work of Eduardo Penaloza, who is ranked 13th at 220 pounds, taking a 13-4 major decision.
The Cowboys closed out the night as Hayden Hilderbrand pinned Wylie Johnson in just 35 seconds at 220 pounds, and Joseph Miller took 46 seconds to pin Derek McKern at 285 pounds.
"My whole plan going out there was to go shoot," Miller said. "Do something different and try to take him down early. The shot felt good. It was nice and clean. The team performed great. We all just did our jobs out there, and we brought home the win."
Both the Cowboys and Bulldogs head to Hillsboro Friday and Saturday for the Reser's Tournament of Champions, held at Liberty High School.
The tournament pits the top teams in Oregon at all classifications against each other. Crescent Valley and Newberg are the two favorites heading into the tournament.
"We have to continue to improve," Gonzales said. "We are going to go out and see how well we can do. It's going to be a good one."
"The team is doing good and we are ready for this weekend," he said. "Our goal is a top five finish."
Crook County 70, Culver 4
Tuesday, January 28
106 —Mitch Warren, CC, by fall over Debren Sanabria C, 1:20. 113 —Tucker Bonner, CC, by MD over Brody Piercy, C, 15-5. 120 —Steven Ware, CC, MD over Noel Navarro, C, 16-3. 126 —Tannon Joyner, CC, by fall over Johan Jaimes, C, 3:15. 132 —Zach Mauras, CC, by fall over Braeden Chapman, C, 1:48. 138 —Anthony Hood, C, by MD over Mason Clark, CC, 14-1. 145 —Hunter Mode, CC, by fall over Gabe Wilson, C, 2:25. 152 —Brayden Duke, CC, by fall over Cyrus Mathews, C, 3:17. 160 —Ben Sather, CC, by MD over Hunter Augustynovich, C, 14-0. 170 —Gavon McLean, CC, by fall over Nicolas Navarro, C, 2:57. 182 —Kyle Knudtson, CC, wins by forfeit. 195 —Gabe Saenz, CC, by MD over Eduardo Penaloza, C, 13-4. 220 —Hayden Hilderbrand, CC, by fall over Wylie Johnson, C, :35. 285 —Joey Miller, CC, by fall over Derek McKern, C, :46.
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