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After hosting two state tournaments - and winning a state title - Culver's J.D. Alley was named 2A/1A Coach of the Year.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Culver head coach J.D. Alley, right, accepts the OACA 2A/1A Wrestling Coach of the Year award at the OSAA 2A/1A Wrestling State Championships back in February. Alley, along with assistants Robert Frasier (left) and Cylus Hoke (center) helped guide the Bulldogs to a 14th team state championship this season.

Another successful year of Culver wrestling, another trophy in the display case.

J.D. Alley, the head wrestling coach at Culver High School, was named the 2A/1A Wrestling Coach of the Year by the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association for the 16th time in his Hall of Fame career. The award, which was originally presented to Alley at the 2A/1A State Championships in Culver this past February, was made official at the end of the spring sports season.

"It's a big deal for our community," said Alley, "and I think it was extra special this year. My name's been on that plaque quite a few times, but it's still big."

The Bulldogs won their 14th state title under Alley this season, doing so in their home gym for the first time ever. However, it was not just team success that led to this latest coronation. In addition to putting on the 2A/1A finals, Alley and the rest of the Culver community also hosted the OSAA Girls Wrestling State Championships.

It is certainly no small feat to host a state championship — especially for wrestling, which normally requires multiple days to crown its champions in each weight class. But to host two separate state finals, and to do so without ruffling the feathers of other coaches around the state, is even more impressive.

That's why this latest trophy on Alley's mantel stands out as unique.

"We've been able to be successful and compete at a high level — and not alienate people," Alley said. "That award is done by coaches' ballot, and it's not automatic that if you win, you get Coach of the Year. I think it was extra special that we were hosting the state tournament and people felt that we still warranted that."

"If they'd have thought they got hosed, or it wasn't a quality event, or if the Bulldogs didn't act in a moral and ethical fashion," he added, "then we wouldn't be having this conversation."

In addition to being the district's top wrestling coach for the 16th time, Alley has received even higher accolades in the past. He has been recognized by the OACA for more than 20 awards, including being named the state's top wrestling coach — regardless of classification — six times over his 32-year career at Culver High School, where Alley himself wrestled in his youth. He spent his college years at Southern Oregon University, earning his place in the school's Hall of Fame, before returning home to Culver and guiding the Bulldogs onto a long road of success.

"When we first started down the winning track, the team before us that was the powerhouse wasn't winning a lot of these awards," Alley noted. "I wanted to find a way to be successful, put our best foot forward, always try our best to win — but at the end of the day, still be respected by the other coaches and the wrestling community."

It's a formula that has clearly worked for the past few decades.

With those personal accolades buttressing more than a dozen state championships — not to mention 56 individual state champions, 54 state runners-up and 19 national high school All-Americans — Alley was inducted into the Oregon chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in October of last year.

As it happened, that fall ceremony was a precursor for even more success in the winter.

Alley noted that the award would not be possible without the efforts of dedicated local parents raising their children right.

"If you have a kid go out and win a state championship, but he's a brat and nobody likes him, then you're not going to see your name on the ballot," said the longtime coach.

With another wildly successful season in the books, Alley is now enjoying the brief respite of a restful summer — which is perhaps one of the secrets of the Culver program's success.

"I think that's part of it," Alley said of the relationship between summer rest and winter success. "I think we go pretty hard, but everybody — coaches included — need a little breathing room."

The familiar buzz of activity will start up soon enough. In the meantime, Alley and the rest of the Culver program have earned some downtime to look back and appreciate what they accomplished this season.

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