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cowboys crown seven individual champions and qualify 20 for state as they win the Intermountain Conference wrestling championships by more than 200 points

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Tucker Bonner works to control Hood River Valley's Carson Farlow in the 106-pound championship at the Intermountain Conference championships. Bonner went on to win the match by technical fall. The Crook County Cowboys showed once again that they are one of the top wrestling programs in the state of Oregon.

The Cowboys absolutely dominated the Intermountain Conference Wrestling Championships on Saturday, crowning seven individual champions and qualifying 20 for the state meet as they won by more than 200 points.

"The team has done great," said sophomore Mitch Warren, who qualified for the state tournament at 106 pounds. "I think we have all wrestled tough. There are some matches that we should have won, and some matches that people thought we were going to lose that we did win. We just wrestle hard. We don't care what the brackets are. We don't care what the seeding is. We came here to wrestle and that's what we did."

Although no one was surprised that Crook County won the six-team meet, which was held at Ridgeview High School on Friday and Saturday, the way the Cowboys won was impressive.

The Cowboys won half the individual titles, placed four more individuals in the meet finals, and threw in six third-place finishers for good measure.

Crook County amassed 470 points to totally overwhelm the opposition.

Redmond was a distant second with 263.5 points, while Ridgeview finished third with 219 points as Central Oregon teams swept the top three spots in the tournament.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Zach Mauras works to control Redmond's Junior Downing during the championship match at 132 pounds. Mauras edged Downing 8-7 to win the match as the Cowboys easily won the district championships. Rounding out the scoring were Hood River Valley 190, Pendleton 121.5 and The Dalles, 116.

Crook County advanced 23 of their 27 wrestlers to the semifinal round and placed 11 wrestlers into the district finals.

Winning district titles for the Cowboys were Tucker Bonner, 106, Steven Ware, 120, Zach Mauras, 132, Hunter Mode, 138, Ben Sather, 152, Gavin McLean, 160, and Kyle Knudtson, 182.

Bonner, a sophomore, dominated his championship match, taking an 18-3 technical fall over Carson Farlow of Hood River Valley.

"It feels pretty good to win district," Bonner said. "I've improved. I've focused on the little things that I've been lacking and I'm starting to fix those. State is going to be a pretty fun tournament."

Ware also had an easy run through the tournament, defeating teammate Tannon Joyner 11-3 in the championship finals at 120 pounds.

"It was a bummer to have to wrestle Tannon, my teammate, in the finals, but it was nice that we both made it there," Ware said. "I feel pretty good about the tournament. I think we did really well as a team."

After sailing through the early rounds, Mauras, a senior, had a fight in the finals against Redmond's Junior Downing.

Neither wrestler was able to score in the opening round. Mauras finally took a 5-3 lead in the third round, but had to hold on late as he edged Downing 8-7.

"He's tough," Mauras said of Downing. "It feels good to win, but not much different; it's just another tournament. I'm extremely proud of the team. We put 20 on the bus (qualified for state), so that's awesome. I mean, we wanted to get seven more guys because we brought 27, but 20 is great."

Mode was in control from the start over Hood River Valley's Chad Muenzer in the 138-pound championship match.

Muenzer, who is ranked ahead of Mode in some polls, was no match for the Crook County senior, who led 2-0 after one period, 5-0 after two, and closed out the match with a 9-0 major decision.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Steven Ware, right, works to put teammate Tannon Joyner on his back during the district finals at 120 pounds. Ware went on to win 11-3. Both Crook County wrestlers qualified for the state meet. "He's really tough," Mode said of Muenzer. "Hies' a good opponent. It's good to get a feel for it before state, get some of the nerves gone. It was a fun match. I need to push the pace a little more, but other than that, I feel like I competed pretty well."

At 152 pounds, Crook County's Sather, a junior, trailed late in his match against Ridgeview's Zach Anderson, but came back late in the third round to earn a hard-fought 10-9 victory.

"It feels good to win the title, but it makes me also feel like people are after me after winning it last year, too," Sather said. "It pushes me to work harder. I feel like I could have wrestled better on my feet and I shouldn't have let him get those near falls, but I had good shots taking him down."

At 160 pounds, Crook County sophomore Gavin McLean was in control from the start of his match with Ridgeview's Ethyne Reid, earning a 6-0 win.

"It's pretty nice to win, but I would like to become more than just a district champ," McLean said. "That means placing high at state — third or higher. You just have to have that mental drive to push you all the way to the end."

The final Cowboy champion was Knudtson. The senior wrestled just one match in the entire tournament, a first-round fall in the semifinals.

Once in the championship round, he won by injury default over Pendleton's Isaac Urbina.

"It's disappointing," Knudtson said of not getting to wrestle in the championship round. "I only wrestled once in the tournament and I was kind of sloppy. I didn't get taken down or anything, but he did get to my legs a couple of times and he shouldn't have. I could have wrestled better, but I made it to where I wanted to be, so it was good."

Earning second place finishes were Cash Wells, 113, Tannon Joyner, 120, Trentyn Maryanski, 126 and Gabe Saenz, 195.

Wells, a freshman, pinned his way to the finals, but met his match against Redmond's second-ranked Kagen Lawrence in the finals.

After a close first round, Kagen earned a second-round fall to earn the championship.

"He's a tough kid, but I really wanted first," Wells said. "I need to keep my head up and keep on fighting and not get in a funk."

Joyner, a senior, who won the district 106 championship a year ago, said that he would like to have won another title, but that the important thing was qualifying for state.

"I just wanted to go out there and wrestle and have fun," he said of the finals against Ware. "I think we are doing great as a team, but we have some kids that need to step it up a bit at state."

Maryanski, a sophomore, was also a defending district champion. However, he was unable to find a way to score in the finals as Pendleton's Jack Lieuallen earned a 5-0 win.

"I'm just happy that I'm going to state," Maryanski said. "It's a good experience and you learn from it. I think we can win state this year."

Saenz, a junior, trailed just 2-1 late in his championship match with Ridgeview's Logan Shenk. Trying to get a late takedown, Saenz nearly turned Shenk to his back in the third round, but Shenk fought his way out of the problem before points were awarded, and eventually earned a reversal as he took a 4-2 victory over the Cowboy junior.

"It feels amazing to be going to state," Saenz said. "My freshman year I broke my hand and didn't get to wrestle, so that was a bummer. My sophomore year, I lost in the blood round to go to state and ever since then I have just been putting my mind to it, and I finally got my chance. I feel like I gave it my all. It's done now and it's in the past. Now, I'm just going to fix what I need to for state. I want to have fun at state and it seems like I wrestle better when I have fun."

Also qualifying for the state tournament were Warren (third, 106), Ross McKinney (fourth, 113), Jace England (fourth, 126), Brad McLean (fourth, 132), Gage Perry (third, 138), Brayden Duke (third, 145), Alex Vail (third, 152), Hayden Hilderbrand (third, 220), and Erick Schmidt (third, 285).

Perry, a senior, wasn't even sure that he would be going to the district tournament until Monday. However, he made the most of his opportunity as he wrestled to a surprising third-place finish at 138 pounds.

"It feels pretty good," Perry said of earning a trip to the state tournament. "It feels like I accomplished something that was one of my goals since my freshman year. I just stayed relaxed and told myself to wrestle instead of psyching myself out before each match."

Duke, a sophomore, was disappointed that he didn't place higher, but was happy to be returning to the state tournament.

"I just have to go out and win matches and upset the top seeds," he said. "I had to clear my head and reset after my semifinal loss and just focus on having fun and not trying to win the match."

Vail was pleased to qualify for the state tournament, but disappointed that he didn't make the finals.

Trailing late in his semifinal match, Vail earned a takedown, then let his opponent up so he could take him down again.

Vail made up a six-point deficit in the third round and was tied 12-12 with Ridgeview's Anderson. However, thinking that he still trailed by a point, he let Anderson escape with just two seconds remaining in the match as he lost 13-12.

However, the Crook County junior came back to pin Javier Galvez of Hood River Valley in the third-place match.

"It's good to be there," Vail said of qualifying for state. "I've never been there before. It was really loud in my semifinal match, so I need to listen better. I didn't know what the score was, and I also didn't know what the time was. I'm never going to do that again, but I'm pretty pleased with placing third and knowing that I'm going to state."

At 220 pounds, Hayden Hilderbrand lost to No. 1-ranked Cole Jackson of Ridgeview in the semifinals.

Hilderbrand, a junior, then won his third-place match by injury default.

"I wanted to wrestle the third and fourth place match to see what I could do because I started out pretty slowly today," Hilderbrand said. "But I'm on the bus, so that's good and I think my last match surprised a lot of people (a tiebreaker victory over Logan Jensen of Hood River Valley in the consolation semifinals)."

Schmidt, a junior, was probably the Cowboys' biggest surprise in the tournament. After winning just one match the entire season, Schmidt won a pair of matches at the district meet earning a fall over Redmond's Kenyth Kettle in the third-place match.

"I'm happy to go with this team and we will see what we can do over there," he said. "At first it was getting the ball rolling, but now that I'm in the groove, it's going good now."

Crook County head coach Jake Gonzales said that he was pleased with the team's performance.

"Some kids we hoped would perform better than they did, and then we had some kids that performed really good, that maybe we didn't think would," he said. "I feel pretty good. We've just got to dial some things in next week and make sure the guys are feeling good and then go have fun up in Portland on Friday and Saturday. (the state tournament)."

The state tournament will run Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28-29 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

Wrestling starts Friday at 8:30 a.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m.

Crescent Valley is the prohibitive favorite to win the 5A state title.

The defending state champions earned 10 individual championships at their district meet and enter the state tournament with 11 seeded wrestlers, including five with no. 1 seeds.

However, the Cowboys also have 10 seeded wrestlers including three top seeds, so Crook County may just have the firepower to keep pace with the Raiders. In addition, Crescent Valley has just 15 wrestlers qualified for the state meet versus 20 for the Cowboys.

Plus, the Cowboys made some late changes to their lineup, moving people up from the weight class they were expected to wrestle at, something that Gonzales believes will help the team at state.

"It was just better for our team for the team race, so that's why we did it," he said of juggling the lineup. "It's going to be good. I' happy with how we performed today, but this isn't the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is next weekend (the state meet), so we just have to keep guys feeling good and clean up a couple of things. Go Cowboys."

Team members are also confident that, with more wrestlers qualified for state than Crescent Valley, Crook County has a chance to win another state title.

"I think we performed well here," McLean said. "Hopefully we can kick Crescent Valley out of the top spot. We have way more top JV wrestlers than they do and that will come in handy when we get down to crunch time at state."

"I'm just excited to see what this team can do," added Saenz.

"Everybody is going to need to do their job in order to win a team title," Bonner added.

"Everything should fall in line individually if I wrestle my best," Mode added. "And the team, I want everyone to compete as well as they can and if they do things should go very well for us."

Intermountain Conference Wrestling Championship

Saturday, February 22

At Ridgeview

Team scores — 1. Crook County, 470. 2. Redmond, 263.5. 3. Ridgeview, 219. 4. Hood River Valley, 190. 5. Pendleton, 121.5. 6. The Dalles, 116.

Individual results (top four qualify for state championships)

106 — 1.Tucker Bonner, Crook County. 2. Carson Farlow, Hood River Valley. 3. Mitch Warren, Crook County. 4. Ansen Widing, Redmond. 5. Elijah Hocker, Ridgeview. 6. Jayden Bocaneglo, Ridgeview.

113 — 1.Kagen Lawrence, Redmond. 2. Cash Wells, Crook County. 3. Jaime Rodriguez, Hood River Valley. 4. Ross McKinney, Crook County. 5. Gabe Browning, Pendleton. 6. Cutter Woolard, Redmond.

120 — 1. Steven Ware, Crook County. 2. Tannon Joyner, Crook County. 3. Logan Hill, Redmond. 4. Ian Preston, The Dalles. 5. Reeden Arsenault, Redmond. 6. Elijah Allen, Ridgeview.

126 — 1. Jack Lieuallen, Pendleton. 2. Trentyn Maryanski, Crook County. 3. Colin Primus, Pendleton. 4. Jace England, Crook County. 5. Ethan McCreery, HOod River Valley. 6. Lane Chandler, Hood River Valley.

132 — 1. Zach Mauras, Crook County. 2. Junior Downing, Redmond. 3. Kole Davis, Redmond. 4. Bard McLean, Crook County. 5. Aiden Sewell, Hood River Valley. 6. Zackery Paulson, Hood River Valley.

138 — 1. Hunter Mode, Crook County. 2. Chad Muenzer, Hood River Valley. 3. Gage Perry, Crook County. 4. Michaelo Degross, Redmond. 5. Matthew Robertson, Pendleton. 6. Gavin Clark, Pendleton.

145 — 1. Dylan Lee, Redmond. 2. Austin Anderson, Ridgeview. 3. Brayden Duke, Crook County. 4. Daniel Jaramillo, Ridgeview. 5. Gage Hanson, Crook County. 6. Danner Hamilton, Pendleton.

152 — 1. Ben Sather, Crook County. 2. Zach Anderson, Ridgeview. 3. Alex Vail, Crook County. 4. Javier Galvez, Hood River Valley. 5. Wyatt Berkham, Redmond. 6. Owen Lee, Ridgeview.

160 — 1. Gavin McLean, Crook County. 2. Ethyne Reid, Ridgeview. 3. Steven Preston, The Dalles. 4. Logan Willett, Redmond. 6. Ray Solis, Crook County. 6. Marquies, Sagapolutele, The Dalles.

170 — 1. Dusty Dodge, The Dalles. 2. Taylor Moorehouse, The Dalles. 3. Carlos Corrales-Bazan, Ridgeview. 4. Maverick Geller, Hood River Valley. 5. Clayton Berman, Crook County. 6. Jubal Brumble, Crook County.

182 — 1. Kyle Knudtson, Crook County. 2. Isaac Urbina, Pendleton. 3. Carson Woods, Ridgeview. 4. Mauricio Carrera, The Dalles. 5. Andrew McCreery, Hood River Valley. 6. Aaron Bowen, Crook County.

195 — 1. Logan Shenk, Ridgeview. 2. Gabe Saenz, Crook County. 3. Tyler Lelacheur, Redmond. 4. Abraham Tinajero, Hood River Valley. 5. Greysen Clark, Pendleton.

220 — 1. Cole Jackson, Ridgeview. 2. Blaine Aamodt, Redmond. 3. Hayden Hilderbrand, Crook County. 4. Joseph Martin, Ridgeview. 5. Miguel Torres, The Dalles. 6. Logan Jensen, Hood River Valley.

285 — 1. Jax Cumming, Redmond. 2. Cody Durham, Hood River Valley. 3. Erick Schmidt, Crook County. 4. Kenyth Kettle, Redmond. 5. Danny Chavarria, Hood River Valley.

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