PENDLETON - The Intermountain Conference District Championship wrestling tournament will no doubt be exciting for fans today as four of the eight teams have a shot at the team title.
Crook County leads the team race with 157 points, followed by defending champion Hermiston with 145. The host Bucks are in third place with 144 and Redmond has 127.5. Hood River Valley is in fifth at 114.5, Bend is sixth at 61, Mountain View has 58 and Summit 16.
The championship semifinals will go a long way in determining which team claims the crown. Crook County has 10 wrestlers in the semifinals and 10 others still alive in the consolation bracket. Hermiston sends 11 undefeated wrestlers to the mat today and has 19 overall still in the tournament. The Buckaroos have 10 in the championship bracket and eight in consolation action. Redmond has 18 still going and 10 in championship action.
"It's going to be an interesting day," Pendleton head coach Fred Phillips said.
"Things went about as we expected. The team scores are real close," Hermiston head coach Curt Berger said. "(Today) is when it all starts, really. The semifinal matches ... . if you win, you get yourself in the state tournament."
The championship semifinals and the consolation rounds will begin at 10 a.m. at Pendleton High School. The consolation finals, with wrestlers competing for state berths will begin at 4:30 p.m., with championship finals to follow. The top three wrestlers in each weight class (championship finalists and consolation bracket winners) will advance to compete in the U.S. Bank/Les Schwab Tires 4A state championships in Portland next week.
Hermiston needs just 12 points to catch Crook County today and the No. 2-ranked tournament team in the state is poised to put up a fight.
"We'd like to get a bunch of guys (to state) and we can do it if we just wrestle a great round," Berger said.
Hermiston entered the two-day tournament with 25 wrestlers; 10 of them were seeded first or second.
Top seeds Kevin Rubio at 103 pounds, Keith Saucillo at 112, Keith Carter at 119, Derek Jorgensen at 145 and Kyle Larson at 152 are all one win away from clinching a state berth. The No . 2 seeds, Kraig Carter at 125, Nick Gutierrez at 130, Andy Hall at 140, James Williams at 189 and Tyler Harsteen at 275, are in the same position. Brian White is also in the semifinals, getting by No. 4 seed Jorge Lujno of Hood River Valley with a second round fall at 275.
"I thought the day went fairly well. We're happy with the way the day went. The seeded kids came through," Berger said.
"I think that you will see (today) the strength of the team come through," he said, noting that Hermiston battled back into the team race after a number of first round byes.
Rubio opened the tournament with a pin over Shannon Crawford of Bend in 1:29 and followed that with a fall over Jayde Cannon of Hood River Valley in 5:28. He will face Crook County's Shane Rhoden today. Also at 103, Hermiston's Abelardo Molina recovered from a first round loss to Pendleton's C.J. Kunkle to win 3-1 over Garrett Gentry of Mountain View. Saucillo also pinned his two foes. He first got Bend's Brain Littrell in 1:15 and then stuck Troy Veenendall of Pendleton in 1:13. Saucillo will see No. 4 seed Daniel Murray or Redmond today. Pendleton's Tyler Kilkenny defeated Hermiston Brandt Lloyd 14-2 in the first round, but Lloyd lost in the next round to Efrain Garcia of Hood River Valley.
Keith Carter got a first round bye then took just 1:29 to pin Cory White of Bend to set up a match in the semi's with Seth Cox of Pendleton. Also competing at 119 pounds for Hermiston, Drew Guthmiller beat Dave Zahn of Bend by fall in 51 seconds. He lost to No. 2 Ryan Enoch of Redmond before winning by fall over Andrew Rosenberg of Pendleton. Kraig Carter beat Jordan Houston of Bend by fall in 3:24 and Landry Price of Pendleton 11-3 to set up a match with the Cowboys' Wes York. Aaron Huxoll won in consolation 8-0 over Chris Overby of Mountain View after a first round loss to Nate Thompson of Redmond.
Gutierrez will take on Taylor Sauter of Bend today after a first round bye and a second round pin (2:25) over Shane Barden of Crook County. Cody Castellaw lost to Wade York of Crook County at 130, but recovered to down Erik Floury of Hood River Valley in 1:59. Danny Hall got a first round bye and was defeated by No. 2 Doug Lorenson 8-1 before beating Jesse Huskinson in 37 seconds. Chris Aylett fell in his 135 pound match with Marques Hayes but defeated Hood River Valley's Terry Sanders 3-2. Andy Hall marched to the semifinals with a bye and a 10-5 win over Jeremy Marshall of Pendleton and now will face Garrett Allen of Crook County. Teammate Tye Schaffeld lost 5-4 in the first round to Pendleton's Eric Palmer but beat Matt Bowe of Bend 4-1.
Jorgensen worked only 2:56 against the Cowboys' Zach French after a first round bye and will take on Clancey Moulton of Redmond today. Also at 145, Lee Bissinger of Hermiston lost to Justin Barden of Crook County and Marcus Dunfee of Pendleton. Larson, No. 1 in state as a two-time state champion pinned Kevin Cholin of Crook County in 2:56 and Adam Neider of Summit in 21 seconds to earn the right to face Casey Arbogast of Pendleton. Mitch Colvin found tough going at 152 for Hermiston, falling 11-7 to Josh Spencer in the first round and 7-2 to Pendleton's Dan Wilson.
Alex Alvarez, wrestling for the Bulldogs at 160, lost to Cougar Jake Huserick in 5:33 before pinning David Dale in 2:38. Nick Keely was lost to Hermiston with a first round pin suffered at the hands of Pendleton's Tanner Smith and a second round loss to Cook's Matt Huff. Taylor Atkinson also made a quick exit, falling to Pendleton's Brad Lawrence 8-2 and Blaine Tocher of Crook County 2-1. James Williams will face Pendleton's Justin Williams today after a first round bye and a 1:08 pin over Redmond's Shawn Moyer. Rubin Ramirez won at 215 in consolation action against Casey McCright of Bend, with a pin in 2:35. His bye in the first match led to a 1:13 fall at the hands of Pendleton's Joe Williams.
At 275, White will face the state's top wrestler in Sean Orr and Hartsteen will tackle Tommy Owyen of Hood River Valley. Hartsteen pinned Crook County's Jared Zeigler in 2:13. Berger said the heavyweight clashes will be tough.
"We had a good day, for the most part," Phillips said, adding that they did fall in several close matches.
"We are in the hunt to win the tournament, so that's a good thing."
The 112, 130, 189, 215, and 275 pound matches will be most critical for Pendleton as each class is on track to matches that were close in regular season battles, Phillips said.
"We have to win all those matches (today), all of them," he said in regards to the team title hopes.
Pendleton entered the meet with 10 wrestlers seeded in the top four slots. Justin Carter at 125 is one that is still churning for a title. He will face Thompson of Redmond after a pair of pins Friday. He started against Fernado Ochoa of Hood River Valley, taking him down in 1:24, and ended the day with a 2:51 effort against Bend's Joel Abbott. Price won 13-0 in the first round for the Bucks over Avila of Hood River Valley and followed his loss to Kraig Carter with a loss to Jesse Thurman of Redmond.
Both Tim Zimmerman and Eli Anderson are alive at 130 for Pendleton. Zimmerman won in 1:06 against Anthony Spence of Bend and 3:09 against Erick Flory of Hood River Valley to set up a match with Cody Moulton of Redmond today. Salvador Fuentes of Hood River Valley lost to Anderson in 5:52 before the Buck lost 110-0 to Sauter. Anderson put Hurd to his back in 4:43.
Cody Campbell, a top seed at 135 for Pendleton, will take on Hayes after a technical fall over Bend's Tony Cardwell and a 10-2 win over Terry Sanders of Hood River Valley. Huskinson lost in the first round to Phil Cholin of Crook County and went out against Danny Hall. Palmer rebounded from a first round loss to beat Tony Buckman of Redmond 5-3 but was pinned by Ryan Wilson of Mountain View in 2:25. Pendleton's 145 pound Dunfee got the best of Cory Farstvedt of Summit in 1:44 before losing to Brandon Nickles of Redmond. His 6-0 win over Bissinger kept his season alive. Jeff Winnet lost to Spencer Marx of Bend and to John Harvey of Hood River Valley.
Arbogast faces Larson today after he needed just 2:57 to pin John Wunder of Bend and won 8-7 over Redmond's Josh Wilson. Pendleton's Dan Wilson lost to Derek Hendrix of Crook County but got the best of Colvin 7-2 before Jeff Sherman of Redmond closed the year with a pin. Tanner Smith's pin of Keely in 2:48 set up a close match won by Doug Tayler of Redmond, 5-3 in the second round. Smith is still alive in the 160 pound class with a pair of byes.
At 171, both Brad Lawrence and Clay Wunder advanced. Lawrence will take on Cougar Cody Larwin after an 8-2 win over Atkinson and a 3:24 pin over Summit's Greg Jackson. Wunder got a bye before losing to Jacobe Krizman of Hood River Valley, but advanced into today's action with another bye. Justin Williams opened his first district tournament for Pendleton with a bye at 189 and followed that up with a pin over Ryan Barrett of Bend. He has split the season's matches with James Williams of Hermiston, who he will face today. Guy Hamm got beat after a bye, falling at 189 to Scott Piatt, but he pinned Josh Jenson of Bend in 4:04.
Freshman Joe Williams will compete in today's semifinals against A.J. Grow of Redmond after a first round bye and a 1:13 pin of Ramirez from Hermiston.