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Cowboys Dominate - Central Oregonian

February 21, 2013
Crook County High School

The Crook County Cowboys left no doubt who was in control, as they completely dominated the Special District II wrestling championships.

The Cowboys placed 16 wrestlers into the championship finals, finished with nine individual champions, and qualified 21 wrestlers for state as they won by nearly 300 points.

“I have a lot of faith in this team,” said Crook County head coach Jake Huffman immediately following the tournament. “These kids have worked very hard to get where they are and I knew that they could be successful at this tournament.”

All 27 Cowboys won at least one match at the tournament, and according to Huffman, they all had a legitimate chance to reach the state tournament.

 “I had faith that all 27 of our kids had the ability to qualify for state, and all 27 of them almost did,” he said. “Not a single person didn’t win a match, and every single kid had a chance to get to the state tournament.”

Crook County amassed 518 points in the tournament, while the host La Grande Tigers finished a distant second with 229 points. Mac Hi finished third with 183 points, while Ontario took fourth with 171 points. Rounding out the field were Madras in fifth with 140.5 points, Baker (80.5), Ridgeview (79), La Pine (78), and Sisters (29).

“We are dominating,” said 160-pound champion Brendan Harkey midway through the championship round.

“I feel good,” added 152-pound district champion Alex Urrea. “We’ve done really well as a team and had a great tournament.”

However, neither the team nor Huffman is satisfied with just winning the district championship.

“The goal is to peak next week,” Huffman said. “We still have a few days to clean up the things we need to clean up. We’ve got 21 kids that will hopefully go over there and win matches.”

Colbran Meeker, who won the district title at 138-pounds agreed.

“I think we look great,” he said. “We have one more week until state and we need to just keep going up the hill and peak right at state.”

The Cowboys took control of the tournament early, placing 25 wrestlers into the quarterfinal round. Crook County sent 22 wrestlers into the championship semifinals and led by a staggering 254 points after the semifinal round.

The Cowboys were so dominant that they earned 16 of the 28 championship spots, including five weight classes were both finalists were Cowboys.

Trayton Libolt opened up the championship finals with a 7-0 victory over teammate Brent Bannon at 106-pounds.

“It was fun, and I’m getting better and moving on to state,” Libolt said. “We need to keep working hard and this is just another step toward our goal.”

Libolt’s win set the stage for a night that turned out to be all Cowboys. Johnny Avina followed up with a hard-fought 9-8 victory over La Grande’s Taran Hardwick at 113 pounds.

 “It feels good,” Avina said of his win. “It means that you get seeded pretty good at state. It was a little bit of a surprise, but it was my goal.”

The Cowboys had no one in the 120-pound finals where Jarred Dupont of Madras defeated teammate Lane McDonald.

Then at 126 pounds Hayden Bates knocked off teammate Grayson Munn 7-3. Although Bates led the entire match, Munn made it exciting at the end, nearly turning Bates onto his back late in the third round.

“It sucks wrestling your teammates, but it feels pretty good to be district champion as a freshman. I’m ready for state and I’m looking forward to it.”

With the Cowboys in such control, the crowd remained largely silent for much of the championship round. They finally came to life during the 132-pound match where Miguel Vasquez of Madras knocked off La Grande’s Ryan Middleton.

Then it was time for the Cowboys to shine again.

First, Colbran Meeker edged teammate Ryder Shinkle 9-6 in one of the most competitive matches of the evening.

Meeker ran out to a 7-4 lead after two rounds. However, Shinkle earned a reversal at the start of the third round to close to within a point. With time running down, Shinkle gambled trying to turn meeker on his back and Meeker was able to get a late reversal to preserve the win.

“I just tried to stay calm and believe in myself and what I have worked on in the practice room,” Meeker said. “I knew he was going to be tough. We know each other’s moves because we wrestle enough in the practice room.”

Next up was Dawson Barber, who took control early and earned a 4-0 victory over Mac Hi’s Jeffeey Jones in their 145-pound match.

“It feels great,” Barber said. “The last two years, I was runner up and this year, I finally won it.”

Alex Urrea continued the Cowboys’ winning ways with a second-round pin of La Grande’s Creed Smith.

“I always seem to be down on points at the beginning,” Urrea said. “But, I seem to be able to come back and win it by just keeping calm and keeping my composure.”

Then came possibly the most improbable win of the tournament. After breaking his ankle late in the football season, Brendan Harkey missed the entire wrestling season. That is until the district tournament. Clearly lacking in conditioning, Harkey struggled late in his semifinal match, building an 11-3 lead, before hanging on for an 11-7 win.

Harkey was clearly tired midway through his finals match with teammate Dean Smith, but was able to hang on for a 9-3 lead, although Smith dominated the final round.

“It’s pretty nice going undefeated, you know, 3-0 for the whole season,” Harkey said afterwards.

Someone other than Madras or Crook County finally won a weight class championship when Bryaden Moller of Mac Hi knocked off Crook County’s Clark Woodward 7-0 in the 170-pound championship.

As expected, Ridgeview’s Boomer Fleming won the 182-pound championship.

Crook County won the next two weight classes with Gunner Crawford defeating Ridgeview’s Phelan Lund 9-0 at 195 pounds, before Trevor Rasmussen edged teammate Gunnar Robirts 3-0 at 220 pounds.

“I feel like I could have wrestled a little bit better in that last match,”?Crawford said. “Being on a good team makes everybody more confident so they feel like they can do good. It just makes everybody feel better that we can actually win tournaments and go far in the season. I just want to say thank you to the fans and everybody that supported us — especially my mom.”

Rasmussen was also pleased to win a district title.

“It feels great to win individual and team titles,”?he said. “It just makes working all year feel like it’s worth something. It will be even better if we can have a title at state.”

In the final match of the evening, Ontario’s Gabriel Gonzalez edged Crook County’s Jason Williams 3-1 in the 285-pound championship.

“We had a good training phase right before this district tournament and I think it paid off,” Huffman said.

In addition to the 16 wrestlers who reached the championship round, five other Cowboys qualified for the state tournament. Michael Seyl came back through the loser’s bracket to finish third at 145 pounds, while Dylan Blasius defeated teammate Curtis Crouch to take third at 182 pounds. Crouch wound up in fourth place as did 170-pound Aaron Swindle, and 195-pound Zach Smith.

Other Cowboys to place in the tournament included Trey Shores (fifth 113), Cole Ovens (fifth 132), Brad Howard (sixth 132), and Tyler King (fifth 152).

With 21 wrestlers qualified for the state finals, the Cowboys have to be taken seriously as state championship contenders. The nine district titles help as all district title holders are seeded at the state finals.

Libolt (106), Meeker (138), and Harkey (160) all earned No. 1 seeds. Meanwhile Bates (126), Urrea (152), and Crawford (195) were seeded No. 2 while Avina (113) earned a No. 3 seed, and Barber (145) and Rasmussen (220) both earned No. 4 seeds.

Other teams to watch for include Henley, Sweet Home, and Cascade.

Championship information

The state championship will be held on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22-23, at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Wrestling starts at 8:30 a.m., both days, with state champions to be crowned at approximately 10 p.m. Saturday night.

Special District II Wrestling Championship results

Team Scores — Crook County 518, La Grande 229, Mac Hi 183, Ontario 171, Madras 140.5, Baker 80.5, Ridgeview 79, La Pine 78, Sisters 29.

Individual results (top four individuals qualify for state championships)

106 — 1. Trayton Libolt, Crook County. 2. Brent Bannon, Crook County. 3. Francisco Barrera, Ontario. 4. Cole Rohan, La Grande. 5. Thorin Wilson, La Pine. 6. Ian Oppenlander, Madras.

113 — 1. Johnny Avina, Crook County. 2. Taran Hardwick, La Grande. 3. Bryce Vincent, Madras. 4. Samuel Flores, Madras. 5. Trey Shores, Crook County. 6. Quentin Durfee, La Grande.

120 — 1. Jarred Dupont, Madras. 2. Lane McDonald, Madras. 3. Cole Skramstad, Mac Hi. 4. Alex Stoffel, Ontario. 5. Dyut Fetrow, Sisters.

126 — 1. Hayden Bates, Crook County. 2. Grayson Munn, Crook County. 3. Eric Nunez, Ontario. 4. Alyx Shaw, Mac Hi. 5. Tyler Isaacson, La Grande. 6. Edgar Nunez, Ontario.

132 — 1. Miguel Vasquez, Madras. 2. Ryan Middleton, La Grande. 3. Chandler Fortune, Mac Hi. 4. Jose Stevens, Ontario. 5. Cole Ovens, Crook County. 6. Brad Howard, Crook County.

138 — 1. Colbran Meeker, Crook County. 2. Ryder Shinkle, Crook County. 3. Travis Hodgen, Mac Hi. 4. Travis Hardwick, La Grande. 5. Zack Knabe, La Pine. 6. Cody Macy, La Pine.

145 — Dawson Barber, Crook County. 2. Jeffery Jones, Mac Hi. 3. Michael Seyl, Crook County. 4. Blake Yensen, Mac Hi. 5. Preston Armstrong, La Grande. 6. Jake Girard, La Grande.

152 — 1. Alex Urrea, Crook County. 2. Creed Smith, La Grande. 3. Chaz Lowry, Baker. 4. Vince Roff, Mac High. 5. Tyler Kind, Crook County. 6. Chris Love, La Pine.

160 — Brendan Harkey, Crook County. 2. Dean Smith, Crook County. 3. Jesus Saldana, Mac Hi. 4. Caleb Woodworth, La Grande. 5. Chase Copenhaver, Mac Hi. 6. Mitch Gibney, Sisters.

170 — 1. Brayden Moller, Mac Hi. 2. Clark Woodward, Crook County. 3. Leon Fuller, La Grande. 4. Aaron Swindle, Crook County. 5. Sal Morales, Ontario. 6. Peter Baker, Baker.

182 — 1. Boomer Fleming, Ridgeview. 2. Stephen Spenst, Baker. 3. Dylan Blasius, Crook County. 4. Curtis Crouch, Crook County. 5. Michael Bauman, Madras. 6. Dylan McHargue, La Grande.

195 — 1. Gunner Crawford, Crook County. 2. Phelan Lund, Ridgeview. 3. Juan Lopez, Ontario. 4. Zach Smith, Crook County. 5. Ben Reyes, Ontario. 6. Micah Fuller, La Grande.

220 — 1. Trevor Rasmussen, Crook County. 2. Gunnar Robirts, Crook County. 3. Tyson Walton, Baker. 4. Gunnar Long, La Grande. 5. Connor Sperling, Ridgeview. 6. Chad Jaynes, La Pine.

285 — 1. Gabriel Gonzalez, Ontario. 2. Jason Williams, Crook County. 3. Miguel Savilla, Madras. 4. Dylan Reece, La Grande. 5. Ben Harrison, La Pine. 6. Darrin Dulley, La Pine.

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