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Wrestling team looks strong
Weekend tournament, upcoming dual will be big test for the Cowboys
January 24, 2013
The Crook County Cowboys have probably their strongest wrestling team in recent history.
The Cowboys have been ranked No. 1 for much of the season and have been overpowering most of their opposition.
The team has won four of the five tournaments that they have entered, and have multiple dual meet shut outs to their credit so far this season.
The team has accomplished all of this despite a series of injuries, illness, and wrestlers who have been held out for disciplinary reasons.
Now for the first time this season, the entire team is getting healthy.
Whispers are starting around town that the Cowboys are shoo-ins to win the state championship.
Although they will undoubtedly be contenders, it is premature to hand the state championship to Crook County.
Sweet Home wrestled tough against the Cowboys in the championship round of the Oregon Wrestling Classic. In addition, both Henley and Cascade have several wrestlers who should contend for individual state championships.
With the later rounds scoring huge points at state, it is virtually impossible to win a championship without placing multiple wrestlers in the championship round.
The Cowboys have a number of ranked wrestlers, but none of them are a sure thing to reach the state finals.
With that said, we will know a lot more about this year’s team by the end of next week.
This weekend, the team travels to Hillsboro for the Reser Tournament of Champions. The two-day tournament which features the top teams from all classifications in Oregon has the same format as the state championship.
Crook County head coach Jake Huffman views the tournament as one of the best measuring sticks of the year for how the team will do at regionals and ultimately at state.
The tournament features both varsity and JV teams, which is critical as JV?wrestlers are an important part of winning both regional and state championships.
The Cowboys will fare well at the tournament. The question is how well? If team members earn their way into the placing rounds at Reser, that will be a good indication that the team will do well at state.
The team has a second test coming late next week — the annual rivalry match between the Cowboys and the Redmond Panthers.
The Panthers have won the match for the last several years and have gradually been moving up in the Class 5A?ranks as the season has gone on. Redmond looked strong at the Oregon Wrestling Classic, so the dual should once again be a great match.
It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys do at both Reser and against Redmond.
The Cowboys qualified 22 wrestlers for the state tournament last year and have even more depth this season. The team is currently so deep that several wrestlers who placed at last year’s regional meet are in danger of not even making the trip to La Grande for this year’s meet.
That bodes well for the Cowboys both at regionals and state. However, the addition of Ridgeview to the region as well as Mac-Hi, Ontario, and La Grande, all showing improvement from last year, will make regionals more difficult this year.
With two or more solid wrestlers at nearly every weight class, the Cowboys will clearly be a force. The only question is how big a force they will be.
Should the team place near the top at Reser against the 5A and 6A schools at the tournament, that will be a good sign. Nonetheless, in order to win a state championship, several other things need to fall into place.
The team will need to stay healthy for the remainder of the year. In addition, they will need a little bit of luck. Winning a state championship is always tough. An injury or two, or even a bad draw can all prove costly.
Regardless of what ultimately happens, the team is worth checking out. The Cowboys finished their home schedule on Wednesday, so the best chance to see them again this year will be when they take on Redmond next Thursday. The JV?match is set to begin at 6 p.m., with the varsity match following immediately after. Take a look. The team has been winning with style and toughness and are fun to watch.