Bulldogs win district tournament
The Culver wrestling team competed against 11 other teams at the 2A/1A Special District 4 wrestling tournament Feb. 14-15 at Union High School, and scored 308.5 points as a team to become district champions. The closest team behind them was Crane with 190 points to claim silver.
Grant Union (186.5), Pine Eagle (165), Elgin (105.5), Union (100), Joseph (88), Enterprise (76), Heppner (73.5), Adrian (67), Imbler (46), and Echo (19) also wrestled at the district tournament.
The Bulldogs came away with three district champions, three runner-ups, and three third-place finishers.
At 106-pounds, freshman Debren Sanabra ran through his competition to place first. He pinned his first opponent in 1 minute and 7 seconds, before pinning his semi-finals opponent in 3:37 to make it to the championship match.
Sanabria only needed 1:16 to pin Jack Roath, of Crane, to win his finals match and claim gold.
2019 2A state champion Lane Downing (145) also became 2020 district champion, beating Zeb Ramsden, of Joseph, in a competitive 6-1 decision victory.
Downing won his first two matches by fall in under two minutes before beating Ramsden to stand on top of the podium.
At 160-pounds, Isaiah Toomey sent a message to the rest of the 2A 160-pound wrestlers, winning all his matches by fall to claim gold. Toomey was his first match in 28 seconds, his second match by medical forfeit and his third match in 1:18 to reach the finals match.
Toomey faced Jace Coe, of Heppner, in his championship match and was able to pin Coe in the third round at the 4:45 mark.
Noel Navarro (120) came in second place for the Bulldogs. Navarro won his first match due to forfeit and beat John Otley, of Crane, in a 9-1 major decision in the semifinals match. Navarro lost a 9-2 decision to Chase Butner, of Pine Eagle, to claim silver.
At 138-pounds, Anthony Hood also came in second place for Culver. He was his first match by forfeit and his next two matches by fall to reach the finals match. He faced Trace Evans, of Enterprise, and lost a 7-0 decision.
Eduardo Penaloza lost his first match of the tournament in a 17-2 major decision at 195-pounds, but bounced back strong, winning his next four matches by fall to place second for Culver. He was able to beat Toby Clow, of Adrian, at the 3:13 mark in the second place match.
Culver saw Brody Piercy (113), Hunter Augustynovich (152), and Wylie Johnson (220) place third at the district tournament. Piercy lost to Garrett Burns, of Imbler, by fall in the quarterfinals, but won his next to matches, one by fall and one by a 7-5 decision, to place third.
Augustynovich won his first two matches by fall, but lost to mcKail Foster, of Imbler, by fall at the 2:55 mark. He won his next match by a 25-15 major decision and faced teammate Wyatt Corwin in the third-place match. Augustynovich beat Corwin 5-4 to claim third place.
Johnson lost his semifinals match by fall in 1:08, but won his next two matches by fall under 35 seconds, before losing to Michael Day, of Union, by fall at the 1:35 mark to place third.
Only 75% of third-place district placers make it to the state tournament depending on rankings and bracket line-ups. Augustynovich placed second at the state tournament last year and Piercy finished in third place at state in 2019.
Culver is sending six athletes to state for sure and could possibly send three more after they finalize the tournament bracket Feb. 23.
"The very first pound match of the tournament, Kellin Abbas breaks his collarbone," head coach J.D. Alley said. "I don't know if that was a sign of things to come or what. We were upset a couple times in the semifinals and had a few scares, but on the other side, our guys that won, Debren, Lane and Isaiah, were pretty dominant."
"Lane had a state runner-up in the district finals and it was a close match, but it was Lane's match the whole way," he said. "Eduardo Penaloza got a tough draw, so he did not get a good seed and lost to the number one seed in his first match, but wrestled all the way back up for a wrestle back and placed a true second. It was one of his better weekends of the year, so it's a good time to start peaking. Debren has been putting in consistent work for us all year."
"It was a pretty tough district tournament in a lot of ways," Alley said. "At 113-pounds we had the three top wrestlers in the state and we ended up third. At 120-pounds we had the fourth placer at state and a state champion going at it and we came up a little short. Anthony Hood had some interesting matches, but I still think he has a good chance to win state or be right in the mix. One thing about state is, it is nobody's home court advantage. There is a lot of equality in that for sure"
Derek Torres (126), Corwin (152), and Nicolas Navarro (170) finished in fourth place at the tourney, while Johan Jaimes (120), Gabe Wilson (145), Isaac Andres (182), and Derek McKern (220) came in fifth place.
Bryce Gibson (126), Cryus Mathews (170), Cole Brown (195), and Martin Negrete (285) finished in sixth place, while Aidan Henlin (182) and Gavin Douglas (113) came in eighth place.
Kelin Abbas broke his collarbone in his first match and could not wrestle the rest of the tournament. Gabe Wilson went 3-2 at the tourney, Trevor Smith 1-2, and Guy Corwin 0-2 for Culver.
Culver has a short break in competition before heading to the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, to try and defend their state title Feb. 28-29.
"This is only our second or third time having a two-week break before state," said Alley. "This is far from in our playbook, but I think we have a plan. We will see how it works and we can definitely work on physical conditioning and our minds a bit."
Other 2A district champions included Central Linn with 264 team points (D2), Vernonia with 162 points (D1) and Rogue River with 219.5 points (D3).
The Bulldogs beat Central Linn in a dual to win the Oregon Classic earlier in the year, but Central Linn is sending seven wrestlers for sure to state, three first-place finishers, and four second-place finishers. They also had five wrestlers place third who could also qualify for a state tournament appearance.
"What a difference a few weeks can make and what a difference in a dual meet can be," Alley said. "One can argue the differences between the districts, but right now, we get all our third-placers in, we will have nine in. If Central Linn does the same, they will have 12 in. They would have a three-wrestler advantage. Both of us had three district champs. They may not get all their third-placers in, but it is going to be an interesting tournament. I talked to our kids already and we are going to have to wrestle well. We can't have any misfires like we did in the semifinals at districts for sure."
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