▶️ Bend Lava Bears head football coach Matt Craven stepping down

Bend High School football coach Matt Craven is stepping down after 11 seasons as head coach.

Craven has been part of the program for 18 years. He helped lead the Lava Bears to a 5A semifinal appearance this past season and tells that he’s ready to move on.

“There’s just some other things i’d like to do with my life beside coach football all year around. That doesn’t mean that I will quit coaching football altogether, but again the work load of being the head coach is just something that I’m not real excited to start up again,” said Craven.

Craven says he will continue his teaching position and track coaching position at Bend High School.

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▶️ 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.”

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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.

▶️ 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.

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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.

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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.”

Saturday:

7:00 am:  ​Gates Open

7:15 am – 7:45 am:  Warm-up

Wrestling 

  •   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

 

Sunday:

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

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.

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Admission:

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 

Friday:

7:00 am:  ​Gates Open

7:15 am – 7:45 am:  Warm-up

Wrestling 

  •   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

 

Saturday:

7:00 am:  ​Gates Open

7:15 am – 7:45 am:  Warm-up

Wrestling 

  •   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

 

Sunday:

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

▶️ Sisters boys, girls basketball show dominance, defeating Siuslaw at home

Friday night both the Sisters boys (6-8) and girls basketball (3-10) hosted the Siuslaw Vikings.

The boys team was down 15-5 at the end first quarter, but clamped down of defense, holding the Vikings to only 14 points the rest of the entire game.

They won 43-29.

The girls team took a 9-1 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back, as they defeated Siuslaw 41-9.

 

 

▶️ Holiday high school hoop tournaments take off in Central Oregon

Two basketball tournaments started up on Wednesday in Central Oregon — the Sisters Holiday Shootout tournament and the Les Schwab Oregon Holiday Hoopfest.

The Sisters tournament has been going on for around two decades.

“I think a lot of coaches like it because they are kind of getting ready for league, and it is a good opportunity to line up against good competition and get ready to start playing when it really counts,” said Sisters Athletic Director Gary Thorson.

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This year, it brought in 16 varsity teams and eight JV teams, something Sisters Athletic Director Gary Thorson says is good for the community.

“I think we are a good destination. I think people like the small town feel we got going on downtown,” said Thorson. “A lot of great businesses are here that are very welcoming when the teams come and a lot of the teams that are here have been coming here for a long time.”

One of those schools that consistently participates is Junction City — a trip that girl’s head coach Marcus Campbell says is a lot about basketball but also knows it’s a crucial time for team bonding.

“It’s fun for us to come over and see some snow and a little bit of weather stuff like that, but it is nice to get our girls out of their hometown comfort zone, coming over and spending three days at that team building, team bonding type stuff and we will work on some goals and get to know each other a little bit,” said Campbell.

The Les Schwab Oregon Holiday Hoopfest, hosted by Summit, is a bracket built for the bigger schools.

“It’s fun. It’s nice to be able to stay in town during the break, and it is good, we get some good teams over, over here in Central Oregon, and it’s fun games,” said Summit senior Ben Strang.

The two tournaments continue through Friday.