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Mat for the Crook County wrestling team scrimmage at 50-yard line of Ward Rhoden Stadium

LON AUSTIN - Cash Wells, in the blue singlet, and Garett Cobb go at it during the Crook County wrestling program's Blue & Gold Scrimmage Saturday. The event was outside, at Ward Rhoden Stadium. Wells eventually won by pin.

It's been a long time coming, but wrestling season is finally here.

"When it was supposed to be wrestling season in December, it was looking like we weren't even going to get a season," said Crook County assistant coach Pard Smith, who spoke for the team in head coach Jake Gonzales' absence. "The fact that things have opened up enough so our seniors, and all our kids, are getting to wrestle is huge."

And, despite all of the COVID restrictions and regulations, the Crook County Cowboys found a way to host their annual Blue & Gold Scrimmage.

Instead of hosting the event at the high school as normal, the Cowboys moved a mat to the 50-yard line at Ward Rhoden Stadium, and held the event outside.

Although the crowd was smaller than at a normal Blue & Gold Scrimmage, there was still a sizable crowd in the stands for the event, which was held this past Saturday.

At times the wrestling appeared to be somewhat ragged, and not all the kids had the same fitness level that is expected from the Crook County wrestling program — but then, the team has had just one week of practice, and that has been without a number of key wrestlers who are still competing in spring sports.

"I thought the effort was good," Smith said. "A lot of the kids we threw out here tonight were kid of novice kids. I'm proud of the work that they've put in, but we still have got a long way to go. We will keep working and clean up our technique and get in better shape, obviously, but we threw this thing together in less than a week and we wanted to give our kids a chance to compete and a chance for our fans to come out and watch the kids outside, where we are safe and still get a chance to compete. I think it was good for not only our athletes, but for our community."

The majority of Saturday's matches ended with pins, but that shouldn't come as any surprise as in recent years the team has made a habit of pinning opponents.

The night opened with Mason Lacey winning by fall. Robert Lacey then pinned Wyatt Gray before Garrett Cobb pinned Cameron Whitney. Jubal Brumble then picked up a win over Jacob VanLeuven.

Then came one of the most interesting matches of the evening as state placers from a year ago, Tucker Bonner and Steven Ware, squared off, with Bonner earning a second-round fall.

Although they are expected to have more girls wrestlers as the season goes on, the lone girl currently competing, Isabel Sherman, squared off with Marshal Bowen, with Bowen coming away with a fall. Conrad Parker then defeated Colton Porfily before the second feature match of the night where Brayd Duke and Ben Sather went head-to-head. Sather was in control from near the start as he eventually earned a second-round pin.

Mason Lacey won his second match of the night as he pinned Aidan Bonner. Cash Wells then pinned Garrett Cobb, Ray Soliz pinned Gage Hansen, and the night ended as Haydn Hilderbrand pinned Brumble.

"Thanks for all the support we had to put this thing on and the donations that were made," Smith said. "I'm proud to be a Cowboy, and thank you to the community."

The Cowboys have a busy week ahead. The team hosts Dallas and Estacada on Friday with matches scheduled to start at 4 p.m., then compete in the Central Oregon Officials Tournament at Sisters on Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m. Both matches are tentatively planned to be held outside, weather permitting.

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