Culver wins its 20th straight district title
The Culver High School wrestling team continues to dominate their district championships.
The Bulldogs hosted the district meet on Thursday, and came away with an impressive win, amassing 344.5 points and qualifying 16 wrestlers for the state meet as Culver dominated the competition.
Pine Eagle was a distant second with 109 points. They were followed by Elgin, 106, Grant Union, 76, Heppner, 74, Echo 62, Imbler, 46, Crane, 42, Union, 33, Enterprise, 28, Adrian, 26, and Joseph, 19.
"It was Culver's 20th consecutive district title," Bulldog head coach J.D. Alley said. "The first was in 2002. Two decades across four completely different leagues and before and after the move from four to six classifications. Through it all the Bulldogs have held the top spot on the district podium."
The Bulldogs crowned five individual champions, added nine second-place finishers and added two third-place finishers onto the bus to the state tournament.
"Some people will say it's a weak COVID year, but I think we proved ourselves," Alley said. "We've been working for this since October to hold our team together. When nobody knew what was going to happen, I was telling everybody ... that there's going to be a state tournament. And you know we were able to put seven seniors on the mat, a pretty good contingent. We didn't have the best finals. We dropped a few matches, but this is probably the biggest group I ever took to state."
With some weight classes not filled, some Culver wrestlers knew they were going to state before the district tournament even started.
Aiden Guest was one such wrestler. With just two wrestlers in his 106-pound weight class, Guest knew he was heading to state no matter what happened. However, Guest needn't have worried, pinning Adrian's Virginia Tolman in the first round of their championship match.
Like the 106-pound weight class, both Culver wrestlers competing at 113 pounds knew they had qualified for state as there were only three wrestlers in their weight class. Debran Sanabria won the weight class, with a major decision over teammate Thadius Brown.
At 120 pounds, Jordan Piercy finished second to Garrett Burns of Imbler. At 126 pounds, Brody Piercy finished second to Chase Butner of Pine Eagle, while Noel Navarro finished in third place, defeating James Carey of Echo in the third-place match.
"I think a lot of our guys did what they were expected to and showed up and fought," Brody Piercy said. "We qualified quite a few guys. This is redemption year. We all want it back and the next step is to get it back. My goal is to be a state champ. It has been since my freshman year, and I'm ready to go. It's a great day to be a Bulldog."
Redemption day because Culver is looking to reclaim the state championship. Last year, Reedsport upset the Bulldogs, winning by a skant 3.5 points. It was the first time in six years, and only the second in 14, that Culver failed to win the team state title in its division.
It was more of the same at 132 pounds with Derek Torres finishing second to Coy Butner of Pine Eagle. At 138, Reeden Arsenault finished second to Cutter Tanaka of Pine Eagle.
Culver did not enter any wrestlers at 145 pounds. However, at 152 pounds, Anthony Hood pinned teammate Wyatt Corwin in the championship finals as both wrestlers punched their ticket to the state tournament.
"We did great," said Hood. "As a team, we wrestled great and we came together and got that district title. And as a team, I know we're all hungry for a state title. We're ready to bring that back to Culver. More bodies the more points, and we are ready to rack the points up at state."
At 160 pounds, Kelin Abbas just missed out on a trip to state, finishing in fourth place. Isaiah Toomey was the fourth Culver champion, earning a 10-4 decision over Elgin's Bruce Morehead in their 170-pound match.
Culver qualifed two more athletes for state at 182 pounds with Nicolas Navarro placing second to Jace Coe of Heppner, and Gabe Wilson defeating Sam McCracken of Grant Union in the third-place match.
At 195 pounds, Christian Matson-McKenzie placed second to Seth Butler of Pine Eagle, while Eduardo Penaloza was second to Jerett Doman of Crane at 220 pounds.
"I think from the score you can tell that we came together and we are going to pull through and get that state final back this year," said Penaloza. "That state title means everything in the world to every single one of us. I gave it everything I had, I'm just going to work my butt off this coming week and give it everything I've got at state. The other teams better be ready."
The final Culver state qualifier was Wylie Johnson, who pinned Rylan Cox of Grant Union in the 285-pound finals.
"The first thing we did was work and negotiate with the OSAA," Alley said, about managing a state championship tournament. "Then we fought with the OSAA and then we as a small group got together and put things together and made it happen for all classifications. We've got a little over a week and we're going to write all kinds of special stories about the year that the wrestling coaches went to the plate and got it done. And, that's what wrestlers do. We overcome adversity. We work hard when the chips are against us, and I think we are putting together quality events and I think people are going to be very pleased."
The Class 2A state tournament will be held at Sweet Home High School on Saturday. Unlike normal years, each of the remaining championships will be held at a different location.
Culver's Hensley Wachter competed at 145 pounds in the OSAA South Regional girls wrestling tournament on Friday, winning one match, but failing to qualify for the state tournament.
The Class 6A tournament will be held at Newberg, the Class 5A at Cottage Grove, the Class 4A at Cascade High School and the Class 3A tournament will be held at Ridgeview.
"It would be hard to bet against us with those numbers, but we outnumbered them last year and still lost by three points," Alley said. "Today we won the matches we needed to. What's not to like. We got it done."
Special District 4 Regional Tournamentat CulverTeam scores – 1. Culver, 344.5. 2. Pine Eagle, 109. 3. Elgin, 1-6. 4. Grant Union, 76. 5. Heppner, 74. 6. Echo, 62. 7. Imbler, 46. 8. Crane, 42. 9. Union, 33. 10. Enterprise, 28. 11. Adrian, 26. 12. Joseph, 19.
106 – 1. Aiden Guest, Culver. 2. Virginia Tolman, Adrian.
113 – 1.Debran Sanabria, Culver. 2. Thadius Brown, Culver. 3. Alex Hunter, Imbler.
120 – 1. Garrett Burns, Imbler. 2. Jordan Piercy, Culver. 3. Bryan Collins, Heppner. 4. Roen Waite, Heppner. 5. James Denson, Pine Eagle.
126 – 1. Chase Butner, Pine Eagle. 2. Brody Piercy, Culver. 3. Noel Navarro, Culver. 4. James Carey, Echo. 5. Andy Miranda, Joseph. 6. Zander Fisher, Heppner.
132 – 1. Coy Butner, Pine Eagle. 2. Derek Torres, Culver. 3. Keegin Chitty, Echo. 4. Gage Martens, Union. 5. Isiic Wade, Echo. 6. Grady Lieziert, Culver.
138 – 1. Cutter Tanaka, Pine Eagle. 2. Reeden Arsenault, Culver. 3. Will Seggerman, Pine Eagle. 4. Kadyn Trick, Imbler.
145 – 1. Carter Blackburn, Union. 2. Reece McConnell, Elgin. 3. Jack Strong, Grant Union. 4. Ty McLaughlin, Elgin. 5. Tegan Evans, Enterprise. 6. Ty Taylor, Crane.
152 – 1. Anthony Hood, Culver. 2. Wyatt Corwin, Culver. 3. Trace Evans, Enterprise. 4. Gen Wintersteen, Elgin. 5. Isaiah Lemmon, Echo. 6. Isaih Trujillo, Imbler.
160 – 1. Joseph Lathrop, Elgin. 2. Justin Hodge, Grant Union. 3. Gabe Habell, Elgin. 4. Kelin Abbas, Culver. 5. Cyrus Mathews, Culver. 6. Edward Ellsworth, Heppner.
170 – 1. Isaiah Toomey, Culver. 2. Bruce Morehead, Elgin. 3. Jake Doman, Crane. 4. Conor Brosnon, Heppner. 5. Riddick Hutchison, Grant Union. 6. Adrian Cabrera, Joseph.
182 – 1. Jace Coe, Heppner. 2. Nicolas Navarro, Culver. 3. Gabe Wilson, Culver. 4. Sam cCracken, Grant Union.
195 – 1. Seth Butler, Pine Eagle. 2. Christian Mattson-McKenzie, Culver. 3. Kale Ferguson, Joseph.
220 – 1. Jerett Doman, Crane. 2. Eduardo Penaloza, Culver. 3. Toby Clow, Adrian. 4. Matthew Tichenor, Culver. 5. Nathan Ellsworth, Heppner. 6. Zach Ostberg, Grant Union.
285 – 1. Wylie Johnson, Culver. 2. Rylan Cox, Grant Union. 3. Brandon Morrison, Echo. 4. Rolondo Moreno, Grant Union.
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