Culver wrestling will soon begin its quest to place at the state championships for the 22nd year in a row.
The program has become a revolving door of extremely talented and motivated wrestlers, all of whom have come under the tutelage of Hall of Fame head coach J.D. Alley.
A product of the school himself, Alley fully understands the importance and the impact that the wrestling team has on the community.
"I think it's huge," said the longtime coach. "I think every community needs something to hang their hat on. The community wants to hang their hat on something. It's their tie back. You need to have an identity and something to be proud of."
This season, there appears to be plenty of reason to be full of that famous Bulldog Pride. Culver returns a handful of athletes who helped the team to an unofficial state championship last season. While the OSAA may not recognize the accomplishment, the trophy that Culver earned shines just as brightly behind the glass at CHS. Official or not, the Bulldogs were the best team in the state last season, bar none.
The same may be true again this year, as the program sees the return of a handful of athletes who placed as individuals at last season's culminating event. Those ranks include Aiden Guest and Debren Sanabria, each of whom took second place in their respective weight classes of 106 and 113 pounds. Noel Navarro and Thadius Brown finished in third place at 113 pounds and 126 pounds.
As for his ultimate goal for the season, Navarro did not hesitate in the slightest:
"To be the state champ."
Other stalwart veterans such as Reeden Arsenault, Wylie Johnson, Isaiah Toomey and Gabe Wilson are all back in the fold, too.
Wilson, a senior, described what makes Culver wrestling so special.
"It's a family thing," said Wilson, who has wrestled all four years and qualified for state last season. "We're all a family here. It's really fun, just to wrestle in front of everybody."
Navarro echoed the feeling, saying, "I think Gabe summed it up right there. It's just a big ol' family."
Brown was quick to note his teammates had forgotten the true secret ingredient for Culver wrestling:
"We have a really good coach, too," he added.
At 21 consecutive trophies at the state tournament — and counting — that may be an understatement.
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