PORTLAND - Thirty-seven Eastern Oregon wrestlers took to the mats at Memorial Coliseum Thursday in the first rounds of the OSAA State Championships.
Some wrestled just one match, others as many as five, but going into today's action an impressive 32 athletes are still alive in either the championship or consolation brackets.
Hermiston already has put a huge cushion between itself and second place in the team standings, leading Thurston 75-41 through the first matches of the consolation bracket. The Dawgs have 15 wrestlers in today's quarterfinal round.
McLoughlin also is in contention for a team title and trailed first place Sweet Home 45-44 at the end of Thursday's action. The Pioneers moved seven of 12 wrestlers into the quarterfinals and have three more alive in the consolation bracket.
Pendleton has just two of their six wrestlers still in the title hunt, senior 135-pounder Mike Savage and sophomore 103-pounder Roman Holcomb. Three more are still alive, though, with freshman Cain Smith the only wrestler to have a Day 1 exit.
Though the Bulldogs have been dominant, recording 12 wins by pinfall, they suffered a demoralizing blow when Ethan Parks could not make it out to the mat for his second match due to an arm injury.
One of the Dawgs most talented wrestlers, Parks was just getting back to form after another injury kept him out of the lineup throughout most of the season.
Early in his opening 145-pound match, Ashland's Jake Scarminach came down hard on Parks' elbow. After the full two-minute injury timeout expired, Parks showed incredible heart to return to the mat and complete the match without the use of his injured arm.
However, he lost in an 8-0 decision and had to forfeit his next match.
Hermiston sent all the usual suspects through to the quarterfinals and avoided any other upsets on the day.
Joey Delgado (103 pounds) and Matt Kilsdonk (140) each recorded a pair of pins to get their tournament started right while Jaylee Britt (119), Dylan Olsen (135), Cody Spradlin (145) and Curtis Berger (171) each won two matches.
Of the 17 remaining Hermiston wrestlers, just 125-pounder Brad Thomas is out of the running for an individual title.
Pendleton rebounded from some tough opening matches to put in a solid day. Dustin Raines and Trevor Hancock (112) and Sheehan Barnhart all recorded wins in the consolation bracket Thursday to keep hope alive for a medal.
Hancock won the first match of his state career in a pigtail bout against Churchill's Russell Pascual, winning 7-2, but came up just short against Hillsboro No. 3 seed Bryce Reisnaur in a 5-2 decision.
The Pioneers were bolstered by eight wins by pinfall and Jace Sargent (152), Ryan Bullock (112), Wyatt Law (140), Brandon Kralman (160), Angel Palacios (285) and Nick Watts (215) punched their ticket to the quarterfinals with a pin.
The action picked back up this morning with the 3A and 2A-1A tournaments also beginning.