▶️ Highway 97 Classic: Culver vs. La Pine wrestling brings kids 4-18 together

One of the truly unique wrestling tournaments in the Pacific Northwest took place at Culver High School Tuesday night.

The Highway 97 Classic — where every age, every match and every point counts. It’s a unique dual-style tournament between two of the best wrestling programs in Central Oregon: the Culver Bulldogs and the La Pine Hawks.

“We have kids here from four or five years of age to 18-year-old seniors,” said Culver head wrestling coach J.D. Alley. “Every match, whether it’s a girls match, a JV match, middle school match, club match, some kids will wrestle multiple times so we can get everybody a match at those younger levels. They all count toward the end and, at the end, the dual meet scores 230 points to 220 points. And we see who wins.”

RELATED: 2023 Oregon Wrestling Classic filled with dominance, firsts and controversy

RELATED: La Pine offsets referee shortage with officials mentorship program

It was started eight years ago by La Pine head wrestling coach Aaron flack, who brought over the idea from coaching in Oakridge.

“There was a lot of people that came to those and never really saw wrestling matches before and they say, ‘Man, that was awesome.’ And so, to incorporate all of our kids in there all wrestling side-by-side on different mats, I think it’s a huge plus for the sport of wrestling,” said Flack.


The host of the meet switches from school to school every year.

“A lot of times, a high school kid has a middle school kid and a club kid, and he’s responsible for that second grader until his mom picks him up or whatever,” said Alley. “They kind of forge some pretty cool relationships out of that, and it’s a good thing for our program.”

Some wrestlers have been a part of the Highway 97 Classic since the early days.

“I mean, it’s crazy because I look back at that photo, and I’m like, ‘Oh, shoot, I used to be them little guys that are out here competing right now’ and it just like I know it makes me happy because this is the way I evolved into the wrestler I am today,” said Culver senior Derek Torres.


“Getting there, taking that picture, being a part of the high school team, even though they were high schoolers and we were middle schoolers, it just felt like one huge team,” said Culver senior Debren Sanabria. “You know, that’s amazing. Part of our wrestling for Culver all one big family no matter what, building your wrestling for high school, middle school, elementary school, mat club. You know, we treat everybody as family.”

For some, the high school wrestling journey is closing. But for the next generation, it’s just getting started.

“Becoming a junior and senior, leading in warm ups and stuff. It’s good to see that there are still kids coming up and wanting to be a part of it and be an effort in the school,” said La Pine junior Cache Montgomery.

“It’s fun to practice with them because they can teach us more stuff,” said one young La Pine wrestler.

“It’s fun because you get to meet new people,” said a Culver Mat Club kid.

“I like it because it’s starting to really get me, and I think I’m going to learn a lot from this,” said another young La Pine wrestler.

This was a tournament with an entertainment level strong enough to get your popcorn ready, but also a match that both coaches know has a large impact on each program’s success.

“To be able to wrestle side-by-side with them is a dream come true for a lot of those little guys,” said Flack. “So it is a is pretty special and it’s pretty unique. I don’t I think we’re probably about the only ones in the state of Oregon that does it.”

It starts with the youth programs and ends with both programs usually holding high school state championship trophies.

“It shows those younger kids what it’s like to kind of get to wrestle in a high school match or, you know, have a match count and be part of the show, and they don’t understand that and get to hear many that ride the bus to an event,” said Alley. “I mean, every other year, I think if we could pick, we’d just go to La Pine every year because it’s a big deal to ride that yellow school bus to La Pine.”

“We tell these kids — the mat club kids and the middle school kids — that, you know, your points count to the overall score and so just that part of it is, you know, feeling that they’re pretty special at that young of age and just starting out and that they’re out there wrestling for their entire team and their entire community,” said Flack. “So that’s pretty cool.”

La Pine has won the 3A state wrestling tournament three of the last four years. The Bulldogs have claimed gold at the 2A classification 14 out of the last 16 years. And while both programs hope to continue dominance, it starts at tournaments like this with the kids leading the charge.

The final score of Tuesday’s Highway 97 Classic ended in a 239-239 tie.

Alley and Flack decided to play rock, paper, scissors to determine the winning team.

The Bulldogs won the tie-breaker and the tournament.

It was a first in Highway 97 Classic history.

▶️ New Bend affordable housing development ‘Parkside Place’ moves forward

The Bend planning commission unanimously approved recommendations to the City Council on a housing development called Parkside Place, a concept aimed at increasing affordable housing opportunities.

“The fabric of all that happens in Bend are the folks that do qualify for affordable housing,” said Housing Director for the City of Bend Lynn McConnell. “We want to make sure that is mixed in, in a way that allows for every one of higher and lower income to live in Bend and form a healthy community with resiliency.”

It’s a product of House Bill 4079 — a state bill that allows for the development of 35 acres on the east border of Bend through a non-traditional process.

RELATED: Sisters School District to re-purpose old elementary school building

RELATED: Competing bills may change Oregon’s rent cap law

“House Bill 4079 allowed for what is considered a streamline of urban growth boundary or UGB expansion for the purposes of developing affordable housing,” said McConnell. “So we have been working with the project applicant Hayden Homes for a number of years on a pilot site.”

That pilot project site, which stretches from Bear Creek Road to Highway 20, includes 346 units of housing, 40% of which are designated for affordable housing.

Affordable means the housing is affordable for a household making up 80% of Bend’s area median income, roughly $72,000 a year.

“There’s going to be a mix,” McConnell said. “Everything from duplexes to single-family homes, townhomes from things that look like cottages, will real a good mix of unit types.”

There will be 139 units that will be considered affordable. Of those, 109 will be rentals and 30 will be available to purchase.

“In order to purchase a home, if you qualify for affordable housing in Bend, traditionally you would be paying about $400,000 for a home, which compares very well to the medium home price in the mid-$700,000s,” she said.

McConnell says the City and Hayden Homes are attempting something no one in Bend has been able to do.

“Hayden Homes intends to develop affordable housing with very limited or on public subsidy,” McConnell said, “That is something that has not yet been successful in the City of Bend and is a really exciting opportunity to see how far we can push the affordable envelope to getting housing built more inexpensively and at scale.”

▶️ Oregon Ducks hockey returns to the Bend Winter Classic

This weekend, Division I hockey takes over The Pavilion in Bend. The Oregon Ducks, Utah State Aggies and Boise State Broncos are in town for the Bend Winter Classic.

The Ducks kicked things off against Utah State Friday.

“Being able to see what it was like last year, to see it keep growing and getting bigger, seeing how hockey is getting bigger in Oregon as well is just awesome,” said UO hockey sophomore Hunter Voyels.

“We love coming out here,” said UO hockey senior Austin Pultz. “The fans bring a lot of good energy. We love coming and supporting the hockey community in Bend. We love coming over the hill. It is a great experience for us, great experience for all the young fans and all the fans here.”

Last year was the first year for the Winter Classic. One thing has changed since then. The American Collegiate Hockey Association recognized the Ducks’ level of play deserved a promotion from Division II to Division I.

“It’s a step in the next direction, it is a step toward NCAA D1 and that is where we all want this team to be eventually,” said Pultz. “So I feel great to be a part of it and everything like that.”

The Ducks have a break Saturday as Utah State and Boise State play, but Oregon returns Sunday to face the Broncos.

“I wasn’t fortunate enough to get much outdoor hockey, so definitely coming here, it is so nice to see the outdoors and so pretty here in Bend, the background over there, the fire, everything like that makes it very special for sure,” said Voyels.

Jan 21, 6:30 PM – Utah State vs. Boise State

Jan 22, 3:00 PM – Oregon vs. Boise State

For tickets visit https://www.oregonduckshockey.com/copy-of-tickets

▶️’Art is rooted in our soul’: COCC launches Black Excellence Showcase art show

An exhibit showcasing local Black artists is now open to the public at Central Oregon Community College in Bend.

“Art is rooted in our soul, it’s rooted in my soul, and being able to see all the diversity with all the art, I think that’s important,” said artist Linda Jackson Shaw.

On Wednesday, artists showcased their creations during the “Black Excellence Showcase” at COCC.

“Most stereotypically, most students of color are always seen as one way,” said Afrocentric Student Program and College Prep Coordinator Marcus LaGrand. “We wanted to showcase their skill sets, and for the whole rest of this month, MLK week, as well as through Black History Month, the showcase will be here for everybody to come in and have everybody be able to engage and look at the wonderment of what these students can create.”

RELATED: Bend, Warm Springs receive NEA arts grants

RELATED: ‘Creations of Spirit’ at High Desert Museum features work of Native artists

In a packed room for the gallery at the Pinckney Center, people came to view the artwork and the artists were welcomed to share their work.

“I kind of wanted to highlight what my mom represents to me and to me that a lot of growth, like the catalyst that butterflies go through,” said COCC student Melissa Smith. “So, I decided that was a good piece for her, and I really wanted to incorporate that sense of Central Oregon moss in there because she really likes nature, so I thought it was cool.”

There was digital and sculpted art, pictures carrying stories and meaning — which for some had ties to family — and other pictures representing heritage.

“My thought is that love crosses all those boundaries, and he is an amazing man, and he lets me be the African-American woman that I am,” said Shaw. “He never asked me to change or grow my hair or do something different.”

“That Black representation of caregivers baby wearing,” said local Josie Stanfiend. “So, that is why I put these pieces into the showcase, and again as a mother, it is just really important to me to have that representation in these spaces and reclaim our traditions and what came from our African cultures.

For Smith, the “Black Excellence Showcase” was about opening up the African-American Community to Central Oregon.

“I really hope that we continue to grow and people get that influence that they’re looking for and that we can help radiate that energy and that creativity from all the African American communities down here and hope that influence more people to create and just inspires people,” said Smith.

This showcase will be on display through February 24. Pinckney Gallery is located in Pence Hall.

▶️ 2023 Oregon Wrestling Classic filled with dominance, firsts and controversy

The Oregon Wrestling Classic tournament at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond last weekend had a lot of big moments. Teams on the High Desert saw a lot of success this year, but there was a tournament of controversy for one program.

Culver High School continued its dominance at the Classic, and Mountain View High School won it for the very first time.

“Making program history has always been a dream, I think of everyone, every kid on the team wants to make a difference at Mountain View and be that next best Mountain View team,” said 138-pound Mountain View wrestler Andrew Worthington.

RELATED: La Pine offsets referee shortage with officials mentorship program

RELATED: Culver wrestling legend wants sanctioned dual state tournament

RELATED: Wrestlers gear up for Oregon Wrestling Classic championship matches Saturday

Throughout the years for the Mountain View High School wrestling program, it’s been a slow grind to reach consistent success. But years of hard work and dedication from both athletes and coaches have led to a year like this one.

“It’s been a really good year,” said 132-pound Mountain View 6A state champion Drew Jones. “This is the best, as far as my knowledge goes, the best Mountain View has ever been in the history of the program.”

The Cougars took home the first-place trophy in the Oregon Classic Wrestling tournament for the first time in program history.

“It was like a Watershed moment for us, but one of the things we talked about when we walked away, we didn’t want this to be that feeling of culmination like we had reached where we wanted to be,” said head wrestling coach at Mountain View Les Combs. “We just wanted it to be one big step and we felt like we got there when competing with the 5A.”

Mountain View was one of many teams from Central Oregon to find success at the Classic this year.

Culver won at the 2A level for the 17th year in a row, while Crook County took silver at 4A.

The La Pine Hawks took first at the tournament for the first time last year and were looking to do the same this year. But according to head coach Aaron Flack, the team was forced to forfeit from the Classic due to an error made during weigh-ins — a possible mistake by the Oregon Classic staff.

According to staff directors, any athlete that wrestles at the wrong weight must forfeit the entire dual, meaning the entire team has to forfeit.

In a Facebook post Flack says:

“This was a very unfortunate situation and anyone that thinks that was intentional, obviously does not know me very well…. We beat all three teams on Friday by over 40 points. We didn’t need his points. I don’t want to take away from the fact that our kids were wrestling tough, and they didn’t deserve to have this stripped from them”

You can read Flack’s full post here:

For the Mountain View Cougars and coach Combs, who has been the coach since 1996, they have high hopes for another historic moment in program history.

“We need to win state,” said Jones. “It’s never happened. Coach Combs has been coaching for a long time, and he’s never gotten that, we’re going to do everything we can to do what we can to make that happen this year.”

▶️ Wrestlers gear up for Oregon Wrestling Classic championship matches Saturday

One of the biggest wrestling tournaments in the state is going on in Central Oregon through Sunday. The Oregon Wrestling Classic is being held at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo in Redmond.

“There’s so much energy, lots of tension, every little point, every little, anything that happens in a match … the place will erupt,” said Redmond High wrestler Ansen Widing. “It’s so much fun.”

The Oregon Classic is a dual-style tournament with team versus team.

“We are dubbed as the unofficial state tournament … championship … for duals,” saud Oregon Wrestling Classic Director Stephanie Mathews.

RELATED: La Pine offsets referee shortage with officials mentorship program

RELATED: Culver wrestling legend wants sanctioned dual state tournament

Every weight class goes head-to-head from 95-285 pounds.

“I think it’s just cool how everybody gets the opportunity,” said Widing. “You get to wrestle good teams and all that, but you also get to see other teams that you might not be able to until, like state tournaments and stuff like that, so it’s fun wrestling.”

Each team competes in its own classification.

This is the first time high schools in Bend are competing at the 5A level in years.

“At 5A and 6A for wrestling, it’s more similar,” said Bend High School senior Finn Schuller. “I would say 6A is a little more competitive, but there are teams like Thurston and Mountain View at the 5A level that are really tough.”

For some schools, like Bend’s newest high school, Caldera, are competing for their very first time.

“It’s phenomenal just to show up and wrestle. It’s a privilege just to be invited,” said Caldera High School head wrestling coach Mihail Kalugi. “It’s an amazing tournament, so I kind of have them soak in the moment because we are a brand new school, we haven’t built a culture yet. So, it’s really fun to just come out and compete.”

Each winning team raises a trophy after the championship matches conclude on Saturday.

“It gets more and more intense, especially when you have those top tier teams go head-to-head, it’s just fun to watch,” said Kalugi. “The whole crowd into it, the family, the support systems behind them all show up and that is when it gets really fun. I mean every point matters. I have seen these go down to the wire with the last match and it gets intense.”


7:00 am:  ​Gates Open

7:15 am – 7:45 am:  Warm-up


  •   8:00 am:   1/2A, 3A & 4A Dual Teams Bonus Rounds
  •   8:00 am:    HS Girls Dual Teams – Bonus Round Teams 
  •   8:00 am:   16U Girls & Junior Girls Open
  • 10:00 am:   5A & 6A Dual Teams Bonus Rounds
  • 12:20 pm:   College Women Invitations Open
  • 12:20 pm:   Championship 1/4 Finals 2A/1A, 3A & 4A
  •   1:30 pm:   Championship 1/4 Finals HS Girls Dual Teams 
  •   1:30 pm:  Championship 1/4 Finals 5A & 6A Dual Teams



7:00 am:  ​Gates Open

7:15 am – 7:45 am:  Warm-up

8:00 am:  Wrestling Begins

  • 8U, 10U, 12U & 14U Coed
  • 8U Girls, 10U Girls, 12U Girls, 14U Girls Open
  • 16U Boys Open

▶️ Summit girls, boys basketball bests Mountain View Thursday night

The Mountain View girls basketball team hosted the Summit Storm Thursday night.

The Storm defeated the Cougars 57-51.

Summits boys basketball made a statement in their win over Mountain View.

The home team bested Mountain View 63-36.

Summit is currently the No. 1 ranked team in 5A.




80 high school teams in Redmond for Oregon Wrestling Classic this weekend

The Oregon Wrestling Classic tournament kicks off Friday morning, starting at 8 a.m.

The high school tournament is one of the biggest in the state and draws more than 3,000 wrestlers each year. It’s held at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in the First Interstate Bank Center.

About 80 high schools are competing this year including nearly all the Central Oregon high schools.

The Oregon Wrestling Classic is a dual tournament-team tournament where all weight classes compete against each other, very different from the state tournament.

RELATED: La Pine offsets referee shortage with officials mentorship program

RELATED: Culver wrestling legend wants sanctioned dual state tournament


Deschutes County Fairgrounds 3800 Airport WayRedmond, OR 97756

  • Adult – 2 Day Tournament Pass: $25 (Friday & Saturday High School Tournament ONLY)
  • Adult- 1 Day: $15
  • Seniors (over 60)- 1 Day: $5
  • Youth and Student (11 to 18): $5
  • Children (under 10): No Charge
  • Free with USA Coaches Card w/ Picture ID (Sunday ONLY)
    • NO Video/Floor passes will be sold 


7:00 am:  ​Gates Open

7:15 am – 7:45 am:  Warm-up


  •   8:00 am:   1/2A & 3A Dual Teams
  • 11:00 am:   4A & HS Girls Dual Teams 
  • 11:00 am:   16U Girls & Junior Girls Open
  •   2:30 pm:   5A & 6A Dual Teams



7:00 am:  ​Gates Open

7:15 am – 7:45 am:  Warm-up


  •   8:00 am:   1/2A, 3A & 4A Dual Teams Bonus Rounds
  •   8:00 am:    HS Girls Dual Teams – Bonus Round Teams 
  •   8:00 am:   16U Girls & Junior Girls Open
  • 10:00 am:   5A & 6A Dual Teams Bonus Rounds
  • 12:20 pm:   College Women Invitations Open
  • 12:20 pm:   Championship 1/4 Finals 2A/1A, 3A & 4A
  •   1:30 pm:   Championship 1/4 Finals HS Girls Dual Teams 
  •   1:30 pm:  Championship 1/4 Finals 5A & 6A Dual Teams



7:00 am:  ​Gates Open

7:15 am – 7:45 am:  Warm-up

8:00 am:  Wrestling Begins

  • 8U, 10U, 12U & 14U Coed
  • 8U Girls, 10U Girls, 12U Girls, 14U Girls Open
  • 16U Boys Open

▶️ Madras High School continues holiday food box program, gives out 150 boxes

For the past few years, Madras High School has carried on a tradition of giving out holiday food boxes for students.

“We had a student at Bridges High School come back from the winter break really malnourished and had to be lifeflighted for medical care,” said MHS Counselor Stacy Bruce. “So, it was pretty scary. We decided we didn’t want kids with long periods of time where they didn’t have access to food.”

This is what started the Holiday Food Box program at Madras High School. From that moment, the staff decided to take action.

“So we put together a total of 150 boxes,” said Bruce. ”We keep 100 to go to the high school-age kids at MHS, Bridges, and also this year for 509J online because they are in a separate umbrella from Madras High School, and then we give 50 boxes to the middle schools.”

Donations come from local churches, businesses, and community members.

“We actually looked at the money we had left over from last year and we actually are sitting on a pretty large chunk of change,” said Bruce. “So we decided not to fundraise this year. We thought it was more important to give the community when we are doing fine.”

One private donor gave $6,000 to the program. It takes around $9,000 to fill the boxes with food each year.

“We are sitting at about $18,000 from churches from the last couple years of fundraising, which was great,” said Bruce. “So we spent about half this year. So we will probably hit the fundraising again next year a little bit.”

It takes about 25 volunteers to fill all the boxes and drop them off.

“We interview each kid and make sure that they really need the food box and what is really cool too is sometimes they will actually refer a friend and say ‘my family is doing really well; we don’t need it right now, but so and so might need it’ and we’ll go ‘OK, we’ll check in with them and see if they need it’ and sometimes they will pass it along to somebody else, too.”