Madras finishes a place ahead of Culver

by: AJ Mazzolini/East Oregonian photo - Culver's Kyle Belanger gets trapped in a hold by Pendleton's Alex Ferder in a 152-pound consolation semifinal match at the Freeberry Wrestling Tournament in Pendleton on Saturday.

Madras and Culver placed in the top 10 at the Freeberry Wrestling Classic, held Saturday at Pendleton High School.
   The White Buffalos slid into the No. 8 spot, while Culver was right behind them at No. 9 in the 16-team field.
   Wrestlers from both schools dotted the podium, which reached down to sixth place, but the only local champ was Culver's Jared Kasch at 126 pounds.
   Kasch beat one of the top Class 3A wrestlers at the weight, Willamina's Coty Brown, in the finals.
   "You always like to see champions," Culver head coach J.D. Alley said. "We would have liked to see more, but sometimes that's just how it goes."
   With Class 4A powerhouse Crook County in attendance, and dominating the meet as most expected, Culver was able to place a pair of wrestlers, Tucker Davis and Bolt Anglen, at 132 pounds. Davis finished third while Anglen came in fourth place.
   For the Buffs, Miguel Vasquez continues to perform well, but just can't seem to get by Crook County's Collbran Meeker.
   Meeker got the best of Vasquez in the semifinals, but the Buff then beat McLoughlin's Jeff Jones to claim third place.
   The Madras senior and Meeker are considered two of the top 4A wrestlers at 138 pounds, and Madras head coach Ron Oliver said he's hoping they can figure something out so Vasquez can get the state title that has eluded him the past two seasons.
   "We're just going to keep going at it," Oliver said. "It's a long way from now until state, but we've got some work to do."
   Rounding out place winners for the Bulldogs were Mitch Adams at 195 pounds and Jack Stills at 220 pounds. Both big fellas placed sixth in their classes.
   "Mitch is coming along, slowly but surely," Alley said. "He's been doing some good things, and Jack took advantage of a good bracket and wrestled well."
   Alley said as the season goes on, the descent plans for the team (used for safe and effective weight loss) should line up in time for some of the big meets, including the Oregon Classic, Oregon's unofficial dual meet state championships.
   "We have three main focuses throughout the year. Our tournament (the Culver Invitational), the Classic and the state tournament," Alley said. "We want to be in our best shape for them."
   With the Classic scheduled for Jan. 18-19 at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond, the Bulldogs have three meets to prepare. They take off to Joseph this weekend, duel with Crook County on Jan. 10, then attend the Crater Classic on Jan. 11-12.
   "We're going to see where we are at after those meets, then try to put our best lineup on the mat during the Classic," Alley said.
   For Madras, the Buffs had a bundle of guys make the podium in sixth place.
   Ian Oppenlander (106 pounds), Bryce Vincent (113), Samuel Flores (120) and Michael Bauman (182) all placed sixth, and Oliver said the quartet has been progressing nicely.
   "Ian is just finally starting to get up there in weight, and he's such a tough kid," he said. "He's always worked hard, and now he's got the strength to do the moves."
   For Bauman, Oliver said it was the first time he's placed at a tournament, and he's hungry for more.
   "Once you get a taste of winning, you don't want it to stop," Oliver said. "This is going to be big for his confidence at this point."
   Madras' Joe Hisatake picked up the first wins of his career. This is the senior's first year on the mat, although Oliver has been trying to get him to come out all through high school.
   Both teams will be in action this weekend. Culver heads to the Jo-Hi Invitational in Joseph on Friday and Saturday, while the Buffs were scheduled to go to the La Pine Thaw, but that has been cancelled.
   They will instead go to Riddle on Saturday, then to a dual meet against Banks on Thursday.