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Tyler Berger takes down a Pendleton wrestler. (Photo/EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


PORTLAND — A year after finishing second-runner up at the Class 5A wrestling state championships, Hermiston is looking like a program with vengeance in mind.

The 2013 Bulldogs have drilled dual opponents and trounced tournament fields on their way to their regional wrestling tournament this weekend at Portland’s Marshall High School. Along the way, the Dawgs have picked up steam and the kind of state-wide attention that has the school favored for not only a district championship — an accomplishment that’s become commonplace around Hermiston — but a state title.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


Despite varsity wrestling rosters on the south side of a dozen athletes, Eastern Oregon’s Riverside and Heppner could be well represented at the state wrestling championships in Portland next week. All that stands in the way first are the regional rounds.

The Class 3A Pirates — who have 11 boys entered in the district meet Saturday, which they’ll be hosting in Boardman — have a couple of near-sure things at the top of their lineup. Lightweights Hans Rockwell, 113 pounds, and Gustavo Madrigal, 106, have just one loss between them over the season. Along with Elijah Conlon at 120 pounds, Riverside’s nastiest wrestlers are all competing on the light end of the spectrum.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — With the wrestling postseason looming, the Hermiston Bulldogs are starting to get the itch. Tournament time offers the opportunity for redemption, a chance to reclaim the top spot in the state and rule over Class 5A once again.

“I can barely focus on school, let alone anything else,” Hermiston’s Tyler Berger said. “I mean all my time, I’m going up in the wrestling room, constantly visualizing myself in the state finals match and getting that championship as a team again.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HILLSBORO — Behind three champions and nine placers overall, the Hermiston Bulldogs wrestling team distanced itself from all other programs at the 2013 Reser’s Tournament of Champions this weekend, taking first overall by a wide margin.

Hermiston finished with 221 points, nearly 80 ahead of Crook County in the team standings. Sweet Home was a close bronze placing.


 
 
PictureHermiston's Tyler Berger won the OWC last week. (Photo/Brenda Berger)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


A week after blowing through the Oregon Wrestling Classic field in Redmond, the Hermiston Bulldogs will join fellow Columbia River Conference institution Pendleton in Hillsboro today and Saturday for the midseason climax: The Reser’s Tournament of Champions.

“The Reser’s is one of the toughest in the state of Oregon, well probably the toughest because it’s all levels,” Hermiston assistant coach Rob Berger said. “It’s one of those tournaments we look at on paper as one you definitely want to win.”


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


Top 10 lists are tricky. And obviously a little subjective.

On Tuesday, Jan. 1, the East Oregonian ran a recap of 2012 with our top 10 local sports stories of the year. While fielding a few complaints this week — discussions of who was placed ahead of whom, exclusions and the like — I ran across a glaring omission.

And sorry Pendleton dance folks, you guys do win state titles, but this column isn’t about you. It’s about Joey Delgado.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


MILTON-FREEWATER — It’s not quite Christmas but the Mac-Hi Pioneers are celebrating with some holiday festivities anyway in Milton-Freewater this week. The Mac-Hi Christmas Wrestling Tournament kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday with a full day of grappling scheduled.

Saturday will be the first of the just two times that Pioneer wrestling fans can see their varsity squad in action this season locally, and possibly the lone opportunity with the full squad on the mats. Mac-Hi has only one other home wrestling date on the calendar this winter, a dual meet with Baker on Feb. 7, but with only one squad in town — and a smaller sized one at that — Pioneers coach Beau Chester probably won’t have his full arsenal on display.


 
 
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — Last December when the Hermiston Bulldogs were wrestling in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, at the Tri-State Tournament, then-coach Curt Berger approached a first-year Washington assistant from Moses Lake High School.

Berger mentioned he knew about Shaun Williams’ career. He told Williams of his plans to retire after the season. He suggested the Washington coach keep the opening in mind.

Five months later, the Hermiston school board approved 35-year old Williams as Berger’s successor on Monday, sweeping in a new era for the Bulldog wrestling program.

 
 
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — The New Zealand wrestlers have hopscotched their way across the United States during the last month with multiple stops in Indiana and Oregon. In that time, the cultural exchange team has picked up enough matches and practice to fill several seasons back on the island.

That’s well and fine — considering their tour is based around freestyle wrestling — but the part of that adventure that stands out most for Jordan Mellars Rose is the food. Not just any food, but the meals served during his stay at the home of Hermiston’s four-time state champion Joey Delgado.

"That Mexican food; it’s pretty cool,” said Rose, breaking down the dishes he ate with his host family. “Eating their food is a little different. You don’t get much Mexican food back home.”

 
 
By AJ Mazzolini
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — The last time most of us saw them, they were grappling for state championships in February. But when a collage of Eastern Oregon’s best prep wrestlers get together in Hermiston this weekend, the matches will have a more international feel.

Hermiston High is playing host to the final stop of a cultural exchange wrestling tour through Oregon, with representatives from Hermiston, Pendleton, Riverside and Mac-Hi squaring off with a team of New Zealand all-stars. Matches for the roughly 20 local competitors will begin in Hermiston’s purple gym in a dual-meet style event beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday.