Culver Bulldogs wrestling program produces six district champs, four runners-up.

STEELE HAUGEN - Joe Russo helped Culver to another team district title Saturday at Pine Eagle.
To no one's surprise the Culver wrestling team had another dominant district tournament, placing first with 340 teams points.

In a tougher district tournament, the Bulldogs produced six first-place finishers and four wrestlers place second. Ten Culver wrestlers will wrestle in the state tournament in Portland, Feb. 22-23.

The Bulldogs outscored the next highest team by 161 points. Host team Pine Eagle placed second with 179 points Grant Union was behind them with 130 points. Twelve teams in total competed at the 2A/1A Special District 4 tournament.

Lorenzo Vasquez (126), Lane Downing (138), Hunter Augustynovich (145), Isaiah Toomey (152), Joe Russo (182) and Cylus Hoke (195) all placed first for the Bulldogs.

Brody Piercy (106), Noel Navarro (120), Anthony Hood (132) and Eduardo Penaloza (220) finished in second place for Culver and all are going to the state tournament.

Vasquez (37-2) pinned two opponents in under three minutes to reach the championship match against Jaxon Blackburn (24-14), of Union. He beat Blackburn in an 8-2 decision and will now travel to state to try to become a four-time 2A state champion.

Senior standout Cylus Hoke also ran through his competitors. After pinning his first opponent in 25 seconds, he was in the finals match against Joseph wrestler, Jonah Staigle (18-9). It took Hoke 2:46 to pin Staigle and claim another district title.

Lane Downing missed the first part of the season with an injury, but was back and showed dominance. Downing won his first match in 43 seconds due to fall and faced Wade Bond (30-19), of Adrian, in the semifinals. He pinned Bond in 3:12 and moved into the finals match to wrestle Trace Evans (31-7), of Enterprise.

Downing was able to beat Evans in a 5-2 decision to claim first.

"Lane Downing is back, firing after the struggles with his appendix in the months of December and January," Alley said. "He was ready to wrestle. We have those kids we consistently count on for wins with Lorenzo and Cylus."

Hunter Augustynovich (27-13) won his first match by fall in 3:26, his second match in a 12-1 major decision and his semifinals match in a 19-4 technical fall. He faced Logan Butcher (32-7), of Imbler, and pinned Butcher in 4:58, claiming gold.

"Hunter seems to be finding his way, pulling off wins in one of the more competitive weight classes in the tournament," said Alley. "We had to dig deep and go into deep water a couple times. Hunter was in a battle, down early. It could have been anyone's match and he was able to get a pin late in the match. That was a tight entertaining match."

Isaiah Toomey (28-14) pinned every wrestler that dared challenge him. He faced Mychael Pointer (32-9), of Echo, in 3:08 and finished on the top of the podium.

STEELE HAUGEN - District champions Hunter Augustynovich (145), came back being down 2-0, and pinned his challenger late in the match.
Senior Joe Russo (29-12) pinned his first two opponents in under four minutes, reaching the finals match against Grant Union wrestler Russell Hodge (22-6). Russo won a 4-1 decision and became district champion for the first time.

"Isaiah Toomey keeps on racking up wins as a freshman," Alley said. "He pinned his way all the way through that tournament. Joe Russo won his first-ever district tournament."He qualified for state the last three times now, but the other two were runner-up. I think he is ready to contribute and I am happy for him."

Brody Piercy went 1-1 at the tournament and placed second for Culver. Noel Navarro pinned his first two opponents, but lost a very close 9-8 decision in the finals. He pinned fellow Culver teammate Johan Jaimes in 1:14 next, placing second and Jaimes placing third.

Sophomore Anthony Hood pinned his first three challengers, but lost in the finals by a 4-0 decision. He came back and pinned Enterprise wrestler Shane Lund (40-6), in 1:50.

Eduardo Penaloza won by fall in under three minutes in his first two matches, but lost a 10-1 major decision in the finals to place second.

"Brody Piercy was a runner-up, but still avenged a match," said Alley. "He wrestled one of those guys four times and was 2-2, but won the two matches that counted. He was able to get a key victory for us in the semifinals."

"Anthony had to go into deep water and conquer some demons," said Alley. "He did that, earning a fall in his last match to make it to state."

Jordan Piercy (113), Isaac Anores (182), and Martin Negrete (285) all placed third for the Bulldogs. Wyatt Corwin (152), Austin Spiller (160), and Andreas Mendez (170) placed fifth, while Jeimar Gonzales (113) and Gabe Wilson (145) finished the tournament in sixth place.

"We survived a tough districts in a very hostile environment," head coach J.D. Alley said. "I thought if we would have a good weekend, we could have had 12 (to state). The 2A Special Districts seem to be a lot more competitive with six or seven 3A teams that dropped down to our classification."

"We still win the numbers game when it comes to state with 10, which is always important," he said. "One other team, Vernonia, that qualified 11, but I don't think they will be in the running to challenge us for a trophy. I could be wrong, but I think Glide and Reedsport are those teams and they are four kids behind us, with our rival Lowell with five."

"We wrestled well enough to put ourselves in position to have a successful weekend (state)," he said.

"We took 23 kids and we put 17 on the podium," he said. "Almost all the Bulldogs reached the podium. The announcer announced the second-place host team in Pine Eagle and everyone was jumping up and down for them. He said us next and announced 'in dominant fashion,' so that interesting when the home court describe it that way. Nice compliment."

The Bulldogs will wrestle in Portland on Feb. 22-23, and try to claim their 12th state title in 13 years.

"We have a system to get ready for state; in what we do and how we do it and we think it is a good system," he said. Some twists this year, having to wrestle a lot later on Friday, which means we stay a lot longer than usual. We will address that and the brackets are out, so we will start to prepare for that. We will just coach to put our kids in a position to be successful."

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