Joseph High School played host to 11 teams of wrestlers on Friday and Saturday at the Cosgrove Jo-Hi meet. Perennial power Culver convincingly took home team honors, winning by a 63.5 margin over second-place finisher Union-Powder Valley. Joseph placed third with 134 points, while Elgin-Imbler, last year's runner-up, took fourth with 100.5 points. Rounding out the top-five was Wallowa, which narrowly missed the fourth spot, with a total of 109.5 points. With 67 points, Enterprise grabbed eighth place.
Joseph, Wallowa and Enterprise all proved to be stiff competition and saw great effort from many of their wrestlers.
The Eagles did exceptionally well, taking three seconds, two thirds, three fourths and two fifths in a strong effort by the host team.
"As a team we are getting better each time out," said JHS head coach Ray Hickman. "Certain individuals are excelling above my expectations and that is a real positive for the team."
Local wrestlers placing for Joseph were freshman Sam Garnett in the 103-pound class, Robert Jordan at 189 pounds and Thane Shetler (152), who all finished in second place.
Shetler was close to taking the title over Enterprise's Andy Wallace, but with less than 30 seconds left in the match the two got tangled up on the edge of the mat and a few seconds later, Wallace used a double arm bar move to get two points and win the match by a 5-3 decision.
Other top finishers for Jo-Hi were Ron Jordan (140), who took third over Culver's Austin Cook with a 5-0 decision and Ben Garnett (215) who also placed third. Spencer Jarman (112), Nick Moncrief (119) and Kyle Schoeningh (145) all finished fourth in their respective weight classes, while Robert Baldwin (135) and Sam Warr (189) both took home fifth place finishes.
"Our goal for the remainder of the season is to improve each time we wrestle because doing well in the state tournament is the ultimate goal," Hickman said. "These meets now are just stepping stones."
Cougs make noise in the finalsWallowa showed a lot of resolve in the final rounds of the tournament because heading into the final matches on Saturday, the Cougars were in seventh place and trailing fifth by more than 30 points. But because of Tanner Beglau's victory in the 140-pound weight-class and Colby Byers (103), Quentin Byers' (119) and Kasey McKenzie's third-place finishes, WHS was able to jump two spots in standings and finish in fifth place.
"The entire team is coming along really well, " said WHS head coach Mel Byers. "At this point in the season, I want to push them more as we closer to the district tournament. I want the kids to peak during districts."
Colby Byers quickly pinned Culver's Patrick Foster in the first period to take third, while his brother Quentin Byers needed three periods to defeat his opponent. With 49 remaining in the third, Byers and Joseph's Nick Moncrief were tied at two, but Byers slapped a cradle on Moncrief and had him on his back, which earned him two points and the 4-2 win.
Wallowa's other top-five finishers were Riley Wortman (125) Samuel Brainard (130) and Cody Rickert (171), who all claimed fourth place finishes.
EHS finish eighth with small teamEnterprise's head coach Chad Nash couldn't be more pleased with his teams effort and determination to compete, even without a complete team.
One of the wrestlers that Nash is so pleased with is Andy Wallace, who took first place in the 152-pound weight class over cross-county rival Shetler from Joseph. Wallace battled hard for three periods with Shetler and pulled out a tough match 5-3. A late double arm bar move by Wallace clinched the outcome.
"I think one of the highlights of the tournament was the 152 pound finals re-match of rivals Andy Wallace and Thane Shetler of Joseph," Nash said. " That was an intense match that both wrestlers really wanted to win. I was proud of Andy because he kept his composure and knew what he had to do to win the match. At one point Thane was ahead and I motioned to Andy that he needed two points to win, and I could see in Andy's eyes that he was going to get those points on the board."
Zac Courtney (112) took third by defeating Jarman from JHS, while teammate Gage Nebel (135) finished in fourth place.
"Freshmen Gage Nebel wrestled very well in a tough weight class at 135 lbs. He is not afraid of anyone and is eager to try new moves," Nash said.
Cody Schwendiman (171) defeated Union-Powder Valley's Scott Kausler 13-7 for fifth.
Wallowa is off this week due to the cancellation of the Grant Union tournament. The Cougars will next travel to Pine Eagle for 1A state invitational on Jan. 21. Joseph and Enterprise wrestle at Orofino on Friday and Saturday. Friday matches are at 5 p.m.