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Crook County has done all they can to put themselves in contention for another state title with 10 seeded wrestlers

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The Crook County Cowboys pose with their hardware from the Intermountain Conference Championships, which were held at Ridgeview High School last Saturday. The Cowboys, who won the district title by more than 200 points are poised to make another run at a state trophy at the tournament, which runs Friday and Saturday in Portland.The Crescent Valley Raiders used a perfect tournament to edge the Crook County Cowboys by 1.5 points in last year's state wrestling tournament.

This year the Raiders are the prohibitive favorites to defend their championship.

However, the Cowboys have done everything that they could to put themselves in a position to challenge the Raiders and bring the championship trophy back to Crook County.

Crook County crowned seven district champions last Saturday at the Intermountain Conference Championships.

The Cowboys have a lot of firepower for this weekend's championship. Crook County qualified 20 wrestlers for the tournament, including 10 who are seeded.

Leading the pack are defending state champions Zach Mauras, Hunter Mode and Kyle Knudtson. All three Cowboys have earned No. 1 seeds.

Mauras has moved up to 132 points, while Mode has moved to 138. Knudtson will attempt to defend his 182-pound title from a year ago.

Also earning a No. 1 seed for the Cowboys is Steven Ware, who has moved up to 120 pounds for the state tournament after wrestling at 113 pounds for the last third of the season.

Earning a second seed for the Cowboys is Tucker Bonner, the district champion at 106 pounds.

Ben Sather was seeded fourth at 152; Gavin McLean was seeded fourth at 160 pounds; Cash Wells, sixth at 113 pounds; Trentyn Maryanski, seventh, 126 pounds; and Gabe Saenz, eighth 195 pounds.

Other Cowboys to make it to this year's state tournament are Mitch Warren, 106, Ross McKinney, 113, Tannon Joyner, 120, Jace England, 126, Brad McLean, 132, Gage Perry, 138, Brayden Duke, 145, Alex Vail, 152, Hayden Hilderbrand, 220, and Erick Schmidt, 285.

Meanwhile, Crescent Valley flexed its muscle, winning 10 weight classes at the Special District 3 championships.

The Raiders enter the state tournament with 11 seeded wrestlers, including five No. 1 seeds and three No. 2 seeds.

However, the Raiders only qualified 15 wrestlers for the state tournament, leaving a window of opportunity for Crook County if all of its wrestlers can win matches.

Crook County's unseeded wrestlers have their work cut out for them, however, as several of them wrestle top seeds in the opening round.

That makes the consolation rounds especially important if the Cowboys hope to have any chance to challenge the Raiders for first place.

Regardless, Crook County should be in line for another state tournament trophy.

No. 1 seeds in this year's tournament are D.J. Gillett (Crescent Valley, 106), Gabe Whisenhunt (Crescent Valley, 113), Ware (120), Chance Lamer Crescent Valley, (126), Mauras (132), Mode (138), Kody Koumentis (Silverton, 145), Asher Ruchti (Thurston, 152), James Rowley (Crescent Valley, 160), Dusty Dodge (The Dalles, 170), Knudtson (182), Santos Cantu (Crescent Valley, 195), Antonio Garcia (North Salem, 220) and Ashton Brecht (Dallas, 285).

Other teams to watch for at this year's state tournament include Thurston with 18 wrestlers, Crater with 16, Hillsboro with 15, Scappoose with 13 and Redmond with 12.

However, none of those teams have enough seeded wrestlers to keep up with Crook County or Crescent Valley.

The state tournament begins today at 8:30 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland and continues through Saturday night, with awards for all classifications scheduled at approximately 10 p.m. Saturday.

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