The Hermiston Bulldogs and Pendleton Buckaroos represent the final test for each other’s wrestling teams before the antes get raised for the district tournament next week.
The Bucks and Bulldogs will face off tonight in Pendleton at 7 p.m. in a dual format. Each team can already count two Columbia River Conference dual victories, having taken down The Dalles Wahtonka and Hood River Valley in previous weeks.
Both squads have their standouts. The Dawgs are chock full of former state champions like the perennial-winning Joey Delgado and Tyler Berger. The Bucks have their own champ in Dylan Holcomb ready for the final warm-up meet before each team goes to Portland on Feb. 17 for the district meet.
“It’s going to come down to who wins the weaker weights,” Phillips said. “Neither of our teams are very strong at a couple of those weights. All year long each team has relied on their horses to win duals.”
The Bucks have recently moved ahead of their rivals in Hermiston in state wrestling rankings for the first time since 2005, Phillips said, and he expects the Bulldogs to come out ferocious and motivated.
Pendleton is currently No. 2 in the Class 5A rankings. Hermiston in third.
The winners will get a good head of steam going into district tournament, Hermiston coach Curt Berger said.