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The Bulldogs fell to Thurston and Tillamook, but they managed to take down North Eugene and Scappoose on the road.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Culver junior Debren Sanabria, pictured here at the Central Oregon Officials' Wrestling Tournament in Sisters on Dec. 4, won three of his four matches during the Bulldogs' dual meet at Thurston High School.Culver wrestling went over the mountain this past weekend, and they came back with a couple duals wins over bigger schools.

At the dual meet hosted by Thurston High School, the Bulldogs wrestled in four separate contests. Culver fell to their 5A hosts in a 70-0 sweep, but the team held its own otherwise.

In the second dual, Culver toppled 5A North Eugene by a score of 72-6, with Aiden Guest, Debren Sanabria, Thadius Brown, Reeden Aresnault, Kelin Abbas, Gabe Wilson and Isaiah Toomey all besting their Highlander opponents.

Throughout the event, Culver benefitted from its deep and balanced team, which features wrestlers at every available weight class. It is worth noting that in dual meet scoring, teams must forfeit if they cannot put up a wrestler in a given weight class, assuming their opponent can. In the event of a forfeit, the opposing team receives six points toward the team score.

As the old saying goes, sometimes the best ability is availability.

While the win over North Eugene was decided inside the circle, availability was a major factor in Culver's defeat of 4A Scappoose in Thurston.

The Bulldogs won the dual 42-33, but 30 of their 42 points came via forfeits. In the seven matches where the teams actually wrestled, Scappoose won five of them, including four by pinfall. Sanabria and Abbas were the only Bulldogs to score wins on the mat against the Indians, while Toomey was narrowly edged out in an 8-7 decision.

In the team's fourth dual with 4A Tillamook, forfeits hardly factored into the equation. Each school had one gap in the roster, so each received a six-point boost to cancel out the other. The remainder of the dual was decided on the mat — and even then, there was still very little to separate the two teams.

The dual began well for Culver, with Santos Navarro and Thadius Brown securing pins. Tillamook took two of the next three, with Reeden Arsenault earning a 7-3 decision for Culver in between two victories (one pin, one decision) by the Cheesemakers. Isaiah Toomey got the Bulldogs another six points by pinning his opponent, giving Culver a 27-9 advantage halfway through the proceedings.

In the back half, though, Tillamook stormed back. The Cheesemakers tied it up by grabbing two pins and a forfeit, before Wylie Johnson pinned Michael O'Neill in just 22 seconds to retake a six-point lead.

The Bulldogs needed to take at least six points out of the final three bouts in order to guarantee at least a tied score with Tillamook. Instead, the Cheesemakers got the full six against Cole Rahi and Aiden Guest, putting the pressure on Sanabria to get his third pin of the day.

While Sanabria dominated the match, he was unable to fully beat his opponent. Instead, he was forced to settle for a 14-1 major decision, which earned Culver just four of the six points it needed to tie the match. As such, Tillamook prevailed by a final score of 39-37.

Given that the Bulldogs were swept in their opening dual with Thurston, the grit and determination shown by the squad in the subsequent duals is an even more impressive feat.

The Culver wrestlers get a bit of a break to celebrate the holidays, but they are not done with the 2021 portion of the season.

Culver will travel to Reno, Nevada, on Dec. 28-29 for the nationally recognized Sierra Nevada Classic, one of the top interstate meets in the country. The Bulldogs will not only have a chance to face some of the toughest competition from all around the Western U.S., but they will also get another chance to travel together and bond during the two-day event.

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