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.
“I think our kids are pretty focused on what we need to do at this point,” Hermiston assistant coach Rob Berger said. “These are baby steps, though, that we’re taking and we’re here to win (a state title).”
Tyler Berger moved to 41-1 on the season with a sweep through the 138-pound bracket. The Bulldog picked up three pins and a technical fall on his way to a first placing, a finish quick to be matched by teammates. Abraham Rodriguez (160 pounds) was also first with a 5-0 record and Sammy Colbray (195) took the top spot in his weight class, too.
Beau Gleed lost his finals match at 132 pounds to finish second and a trio of Bulldogs bowed out in the semifinals of the winner’s bracket. All three won their next match for a consolation championship, or third place overall. They were Wyatt Scribner (120), Caleb Batease (220) and Jake Batease (heavyweight).
The Bulldogs finished fourth at this tournament last year.
Pendleton found itself down the TOC team standings in the bottom third at 17th out of the 24-school field with only two placers.
Dylan Holcomb lost the 145-pound finals match to finish in second, the highest of any Buckaroo, and one spot above his finish from 2012. Just heavyweight PJ Schubert would also make the placings stage of the tournament, finishing in fifth.
Outside of seniors Holcomb and Jack Ezell, who returned from a long injury layoff for his first action this weekend, and the junior Schubert, most of the Bucks are underclassman, coach Fred Phillips said. The size of this event and the talent level was shocking for the boys who’d never faced the Reser’s at the varsity level.
“Some of the other kids had some big eyes when they got to this tournament,” Phillips said. “Maybe it’s good for us to see it now and get it out of our system. It’s experience for them, being thrown in the big boy pool.”
Both Umatilla County schools will be at the Oregon City Tournament next weekend. Hermiston has a duals date with The Dalles Wahtonka mid-week first, though. That action will be Thursday in Hermiston, the Bulldogs’ lone home event of the season.