Wrestlers descend on Redmond for wrestling classic
Few things in Oregon high school athletics compares to the energy, anxiety and excitement of the state wrestling championships at Portland Memorial Coliseum each year.
Except, of course, for the Oregon Wrestling Classic.
In size and scope, the annual weekend-long wrestling extravaganza is as close as one gets to mimicking the pressure that comes with competing under the gaze of countless fans at state, making it an ideal place to gain experience heading into the final stretch of the season.
The Woodburn, North Marion and Kennedy wrestling teams made the trek across the Cascade Range on Friday and Saturday, bringing home thrilling victories and frustrating defeats as they prepare for the coming district championships in less than a month.
It was a successful weekend for the Bulldogs, who went 3-2 as a team over two days, falling to a pair of 4A powers from La Grande and Sweet Home.
Woodburn placed second in their respective pool, opening Friday with back-to-back victories over Madras and Molalla before falling to the La Grande Tigers.
The Bulldogs opened with wins in seven of its first eight matches against the Madras White Buffaloes, holding a 34-5 edge before the Buffs finished with wins in four of the last five matches to pull within a 37-24 final.
The follow-up match against the Molalla Indians was much more even. The two teams traded victories in each weight class, with Woodburn holding a 21-18 advantage before Molalla won three straight matches by pinfall to take a 36-21 lead with three matches to go.
Woodburn's heavyweight wrestlers stepped up to the challenge.
Jaime Cruz took a third-round victory over Chase Martin in the 195-pound match to begin a streak of three victories, following by a dominating 13-second pin of Dakoda Orfield by Gunthrie DeCrozuc to cut the deficit to 36-33.
Needing a Major Decision or better pull out the win, 285-pound Grant Morales pinned Francisco Ignacio with 30 seconds left in regulation to put the Bulldogs over the edge for the 39-36 victory.
But the Bulldogs ran into the brick wall that was La Grande — last year's third-place finisher at state. Outside of Freddy Hernandez's third-round pin over Alex Kehr in the 138-pound match, Woodburn was swept in every other weight class against the Tigers, falling 72-6 to place second in their pool.
Woodburn followed on Saturday against the Sweet Home Huskies in the quarterfinals of the 4A championship bracket. The Bulldogs faired better against the Huskies — who placed second at state last year — but went on to fall 57-15. Wesley Vasquez (126 pounds), Kaden Christiansen (145) and Cruz (195) were the lone victors for the Bulldogs.
Woodburn finished the weekend with a 42-37 win over Ontario, once again using its heavyweight wrestlers to seal the deal.
Down 31-18 following four consecutive losses in the middle weights to the Tigers, the Bulldogs went on to win the next four matches.
Keven Mendoza claimed a forfeit victory at 170 pounds, followed by three straight pins from Alex Avendano, Cruz and DeCrozuc to give Woodburn a 42-31 lead with one match to go, clinching the victory.
The North Marion wrestling team brought a small squad over the mountains to the Oregon Classic, competing with seven wrestlers and going 0-for-5 in head-to-head matches.
The Huskies saw a tough draw in pool play on Friday, drawing a trio of teams that finished within the top five at state last year.
North Marion opened with a 66-9 loss to Baker/Powder Valley and followed with a 72-9 defeat to Cascade. Both Baker/Powder Valley and Cascade finished back-to-back in the 4A standings at state in 2019, placing fourth and fifth, respectively.
The Huskies' final match of the day came against wrestling power Crook County, which placed second at the 5A level last year. North Marion fell 72-6 to the Cowboys, with the lone victory coming by Terrin Sheridan at 160 pounds.
On Saturday, North Marion opened with a 48-18 loss to Sisters. The Huskies finished their weekend with a 66-7 loss to Estacada. Ronaldo Hernandez (132) picked up a 12-4 major decision over Tucker Jackson, while Kevin Guzman (138) gutted out a 9-8 decision over Dan Glasser.
The Kennedy Trojans picked up a rare head-to-head victory in their first day at the Oregon Classic, beating the Lakeview Honkers 42-30 to finish third in pool play.
After falling 72-9 to Grant Union and 45-28 to Redmond's JV team, Kennedy closed out Friday by using the team's depth to its advantage.
With forfeit victories in six weight classes, Kennedy all but won the dual before it began — but that didn't mean the match was in the bag.
After falling behind 24-0 with four forfeit losses to open the contest, Lakeview stormed back. The Honkers won five straight matches by pinfall to go up 30-24 with three weight classes left.
Kennedy had forfeit victories ahead at 220 and 285 pounds, putting pressure on Cole Boen at 195 pounds to pull out a win to secure the team victory.
The junior responded with a 23-second pin over Wyatt Julian to clinch enough points to put the Trojans over the edge.The following day, Kennedy fell 78-4 to Culver, with Boen taking the lone win in a 12-2 major decision.
The Trojans wrapped up their weekend with a 48-24 loss to Pine Eagle.
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