Culver wrestling dominates the competition at Jo-Hi Invitational
If the Jo-Hi Invitational is a litmus test for the Culver wrestling program, then the Bulldogs just passed with flying colors.
Culver crushed the rest of the field at the annual tournament, which is held every year at Joseph High School. The Bulldogs took first place with 251 points, more than double that of Elgin, which finished three points ahead of third-place Heppner/Ione to take second at the event, which took place on Jan. 7-8.
The Bulldogs boasted four individual champions from the tournament, the most remarkable of which was freshman Cole Rahi. The first-year Culver wrestler took home his first title at 106 pounds, after beating Phoenix Taylor of Elgin in the semifinal and Hunter Buck of Pine Eagle in the final.
Joining Rahi in the winner's circle were Debren Sanabria, Kelin Abbas and Wylie Johnson.
Sanabria took first at 113 pounds, beating teammate Aiden Guest the final round after pinning Joseph's Jett Peterson in just 57 seconds in the previous bout.
Abbas went 3-0 at 152 pounds to earn first place, beating Gavin Russell of Joseph, Kamran Ness of Santiam Christian and Ty McLaughlin of Elgin on his way to victory.
There were only three wrestlers in the 285-pound bracket — and two of them came from Culver. Still, it was Bulldog stalwart Wylie Johnson who came away victorious after pinning Rolando Moreno of Grant Union and teammate Tristan Otter.
In addition to Guest and Otter, who took second place by virtue of losing to other Culver wrestlers, fellow silver medalists at Jo-Hi included Santos Navarro, Noel Navarro, Reeden Arsenault and Isaiah Toomey.
Other Bulldogs to factor into the scoring included: Clancy Rutledge, who took third place at 220 pounds; Thadius Brown, who placed fourth at 126 pounds; Gabe Wilson, who finished in fourth in the 160-pound class; and Lonny Hernandez, who was fifth place among the 182-pounders.
Prior to the Jo-Hi event, Culver squared off with Elgin and Santiam Christian in a three-way duals meet at Elgin High School on Thursday, Jan. 6. Culver dominated in those duals, too, grabbing a 63-18 win over Elgin and a 78-6 victory over Santiam Christian.
The outsize scorelines in those duals is thanks in large part to the healthy roster of wrestlers that head coach J.D. Alley has at his disposal. By being able to field wrestlers at every weight class — something not every school can do — the team often picks up six points by default in duals.
Still, even looking only at the head-to-head matches, the Bulldogs came out on top in both duals.
Forfeits aside, Culver beat Elgin 27-15 in its matches, with Rahi, Sanabria, Abbas, Toomey and JJ Nelson picking up wins for the Bulldogs.
Against Santiam Christian, the Bulldogs prevailed 36-6 in non-forfeit matches. Sanabria, Abbas and Toomey all won again, as did Noel Navarro, Clancy Rutledge and Wylie Johnson.
In its first 2A/1A duals, the Culver wrestling program showed that it was the class of Special District 4.
The next major test for Culver comes this weekend at the annual Oregon Classic in Redmond on Jan. 14-15. The Bulldogs won the 2A/1A team title at the 2020 event.
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