Lorenzo Vasquez wins Reser tourney, outstanding wrestler
After a tough loss to Crook County in the Cowdog Classic Jan. 22, the Bulldogs responded in a big way.
Culver lost the dual 46-12, only Cylus Hoke and Anthony Hood both pinned their Crook County opponents for the Bulldogs. The biggest surprise came from Lorenzo Vasquez taking an 8-0 defeat. But Vasquez was not down for long. Last wekened, he not only became the Reser Tournament of Champions 120-pound champion, but also won outstanding wrestler of the tourney.
"After that, especially how bad I lost, it was definitely disappointing," Vasquez said. "I knew this was going to be the toughest week I had all year, maybe even I had in my entire career. But I knew I could not sit and pout about it because if I did I would not have won."
"I had a short time to get my mind right and fix it," he said. "That loss (in Prineville), it fueled me and made me go harder in practice. I told myself I am never going to lose like that again."
If Vasquez was trying to prove he is the best 120-pound wrestler in the state, he did more than succeed, absolutely tearing up the tournament that has the best wrestlers and teams in the state.
"Lorenzo was named outstanding wrestler in what people call the most prestigious tournament in the state," said Culver coach J.D. Alley. "He took a thumping at Crook County and I think a lot can be made by how he responded."
Vasquez destroyed his first opponent of the day, winning a 15-0 technical fall over Kaden Schlatter, of 6A Roseburg. He moved on to face Kaden Goff, of 6A West Linn, and won a 13-2 major decision to move on to the semifinals.
Vasquez beat Tanner Ulrey, of 5A Crater, in a 10-3 decision and found himself matched up with the returning 6A champion, Christopher Strange, of Newberg. Strange and Vasquez did not wrestle each other in "The World's Fasted Dual" at the Oregon Classic because the coaches wanted to wait until the Reser Tournament.
"I get nervous before my matches and I remember before my finals match J.D. (Alley) pulled me aside, looked at me and said go have some fun," Vasquez said. "That relieved a lot of my stress I was feeling. I know he wants me to win and it was a big deal, but in the end I am still Lorenzo from Culver and he loves me for that."
The first period was tied 0-0, but Vasquez was able to score a three-point near fall in the second period. The 3-0 lead forced Strange to open up and Vasquez took advantage, dominating Strange in the final period and winning a 10-2 major decision.
"I thought I performed a lot better than I have throughout the entire year," Vasquez said. "Coming into the week there wasn't a lot of big things I was focusing on because there is not a lot of things you can put in your toolbox before hand. I was focusing on tweaking some little things."
Vasquez did not give up an offensive point to any of his opponents the entire tournament and with only one outstanding wrestler trophy to give, it was given to Vasquez for his incredible performances.
"That was something that was really special to me," Vasquez said. "I was in shock for a bit. I could not believe I won it. That is something that no Culver wrestler has ever done and we have had some amazing wrestlers."
"I was able to bring it home to Culver, to us, but it was not just me," he said. "My coaches, teammates all push me to be better."
"Things started all with Lance Hoke (assistant coach)," Vasquez said. "He has really become a second dad to me. My best memory was when I was a freshman cutting weight and I was too heavy. He knew I was feeling bad so he started running with me, than sprinting with me and than Cylus (Hoke) joined in and it felt like they were helping carry all this weight."
"J.D. provided a certain guidance that really put me on the right track," he said. "When I was a freshman I wasn't the best student and wasn't very liked. I was a little kid and with J.D. and Lance kept me on the right track. Everything together played out as one."
Senior Cylus Hoke placed fifth for the Bulldogs. He pinned his first challender in 5-minutes and 29 seconds, but lost a 3-2 decision to Loudyn Reece, of Century, in his second match.
Hoke dominated his next two opponents, pinning Mountain View wrestler Jacob Conkin in 54 seconds and won a 13-2 major decision against Joseph Jordahl, of Crater.
In the consolation semifinals, Hoke lost to Christopher Woodworth, of La Grande, in a 3-0 decision. Hoke than beat Brock Love, of Crescent Valley, in a 12-4 major decision to place fifth.
Sophomore Anthony Hood won his first two matches, one by a 9-0 major decision and the other by fall in 1:34. He lost his next two after a good start in a 15-0 technical fall and a 14-0 major decision.
Hood won his last match of the day by forfeit and placed fifth for the Culver wrestling program.
With 21 school at the tournament, Culver scored 89 team points to place 11th. Newberg (214), Crescent Valley (177.5), and Dallas (157) placed top three.
"Overall, as a team, we were slightly lower than we have been in years," said Alley. "We had the same amount of placers we usually do. Hood will be our only returner next year. A win here or there can really move you two or three spots. It was in our potential to score high, but it is hard to complain when we had some really good things come out of it. One, we stayed healthy and we walked away with a champion and outstanding wrestler.
"It only takes one to give you valuable credibility with teams outside your classification," Alley said. "I was told next year is going to be the last Reser tournament. We almost came away with the very last one.
"I lot of people don't know this about our program, but we were able to have a state champion in the first year I coached in 1990-91, but we did not have another champ for 10 years," he said. We could not get that monkey off our back. But once we did, things came to place and the next 18 years we have had close to 50 champions. That was the case here.
"We stay very consistent and parents, kids know what to expect from kinder to high school," Alley said. "The behind the scenes work and effort and people work their tail off for this program here. Those things where off and are contagious and winning is contagious.
"For 18 years we have had a chance to bring home a (state) trophy and 16 of those are first place," he said. "It comes down to consistency, effort, passion, great help and coaches. We truly care about our kids and we have seen almost every scenario, not too much surprises us."
Culver travels to Heppner this Saturday for the Heppner tournament, their last tournament before districts in Pine Eagle Feb. 15-16.
"To me, the only thing left in high school is that final state title," Vasquez said. "There is a lot of extra pressure, but I am going to always hear J.D.'s voice in the back of my head. 'Go out there and have fun right?' I don't feel like this is the end of my journey. I am going off to Southern Oregon and it really feels like the beginning. I am going to start my new journey and kick butt there."