REDMOND — Hopes were already high for both the Culver and La Pine wrestling programs, and Saturday both teams cleared important checkpoints in their quests for state titles come late February.

Over the weekend at the Oregon Classic in Redmond, the Bulldogs won the Class 2A/1A tournament and the Hawks won the Class 3A tournament.

It was the first Oregon Classic title for La Pine, which has won two team state championships since 2019. As for Culver, it continued its dominance, winning its 16th consecutive Oregon Classic, and 18th in the 20-year history of the annual dual-meet tournament at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center.

“The cup has stayed with us and we are really proud of that,” said Culver coach J.D. Alley.

En route to the 2A/1A title, Culver secured wins over Lowell (75-6) and Elgin (65-18) before defeating Illinois Valley in the finals, 54-24.

La Pine took down Rainier (77-0), Burns (52-4) and beat Harrisburg in the finals, 43-30, to capture its first Classic.

“To bring that back to La Pine is really exciting,” said La Pine coach Aaron Flack. “It was one of our big goals this year. We have won state titles, but we never won the Classic. Great way for seniors to go out, for them to win the Classic their last year is really awesome.”

In all, Central Oregon teams performed well at the Classic, as six teams finished fourth place or higher.

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The La Pine girls team, with only six wrestlers in its lineup, placed sixth in the girls division.

Redmond, after losing in the semifinals to 5A-winner Thurston, responded with a 51-25 win over Scappoose in the consolation final.

Both Crook County (5A) and Mountain View (6A) advanced to the final round, however, both teams would fall short of a team title.

While the Cougars picked up a 49-27 win over Mountain Valley Conference-foe Sprague in the semifinals, they were no match for Newberg, which will be the heavy favorite come state tournament time. The Tigers defeated Mountain View 62-9 in the final round, and outscored their opponents 199-33 in their three matches.

The 5A finals between Crook County and Thurston had the most thrilling finish of the tournament. Leading by 11 going into the final two matches, the Cowboys fell victim to what ultimately wins in dual-meets: bonus points.

Thurston’s 220-pounder Vaun Halstead and 285-pounder Keannan Bowditch each pinned their opponent in the final two matches to score 12 points and give the Colts a come-from-behind 38-37 win.

With nearly all of the state’s top teams in one location, the Oregon Classic allowed for coaches to gauge many other teams and begin the strategizing for the best way to succeed in both district tournaments and state tournaments.

“They saw what they have to do in their training next month,” Flack said. “What really matters is at the end of the year.”

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Reporter: 541-383-0307, brathbone@bendbulletin.com

(1) comment

hdkerr

Hi! Just want to make a correction to your article. La Pine girls placed 4th not 6th

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