The Buckaroos weren’t the only Eastern Oregon squad with a strong performance at the Free-Berry Classic wrestling tournament on Thursday. Class 3A Riverside had a sixth-place finish, led by individual champion Hans Rockwell at the 106-pound weight.
Rockwell, a freshman, beat Crook County’s Trayton Libolt 6-3, only giving up a few points late in the match for stalling. The meeting wasn’t the first between the two boys as Rockwell managed a fall victory with only seconds left in their match two weeks ago in a Bend tournament.
“I knew that he wasn’t very strong with his upper body so I kind of tried to throw him a little bit,” Rockwell said. “I got in that position more and I felt safer.”
“They both shot in at the same time and went head-to-head and there’s usually a loser when that happens and this time it was Briton,” Riverside assistant coach Richard Rockwell said. “We pulled him from the tournament right off the bat to make sure he’s healthy and doesn’t have a concussion and can be ready to go at the end of the year when we really need him.”
The Mac-Hi wrestlers were a little farther down the ladder in ninth place. The Pioneers had two winners in Ryan Bullock (152 pounds) and Francisco Saldana (170 pounds).
Saldana won by pin fall over Crook County’s Dean Smith. The wrestler led 7-0 when he caught Smith’s arm and was able to leverage him into a pin position.
“All I could do was just squeeze as hard as I could and hold it there and hope for the pin,” Saldana said. “And I got it. I’m satisfied today.”
Heppner also appeared at the tournament, but came in next to last to only The Dalles Wahtonka. The lone Mustang in the money was Tim Nelson, a runner up at 220 pounds.
The Pirates’ normal go-to for victories, Briton Hansen, made it to the semifinals before a head collision left him dazed. Mason Harris of Crook County won the match by default.