PORTLAND — Culver sophomore David Badillo credits teammate Mitch Nelson with getting him into wrestling as a sixth-grader.
Nelson says practicing with Badillo every day helped him win the Class 2A/1A 119-pound state title last year as a freshman.
Today at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum the two 10th graders, friends since middle school, will make Culver wrestling history — no easy feat in a program that has won three consecutive state championships — when they compete against one another for the 2A/1A 125-pound state title. Badillo, who placed third in the 125-pound bracket a year ago, pinned Enterprise’s Brock Hayes in one semifinal on Friday while Nelson defeated Scio’s Wayne Vinton 9-4 in the other, setting up an all-Bulldog state final, the first in school history.
“They’ve got their opponents pretty well scouted,” joked Culver coach J.D. Alley, whose team enters today’s championship round with a 46.5-point lead, 113.5-67, over Lowell. “You’re probably gong to see a pretty low-scoring match. These guys have been drill partners before and they know each others’ moves. David’s pretty explosive on his feet and Mitch’s pretty good at stopping attacks.”
One of six Bulldog wrestlers in today’s state finals, Badillo said he considered wrestling a “lame” sport until Nelson and Ryan Kasch — who will compete for a state title at 119 pounds today — convinced him to come out for the sport in middle school.
“If my best friends were going to wrestle,” Badillo said after his semifinal win, “I figured I would too.”
Nelson, who with a win against Badillo would still have a chance at the rare four-state title career, was tied 2-2 with Vinton after two periods before scoring nine points in the third period to advance to the state final for the second year in a row.
“It’ll come down to if (Badillo) wants his first state title more than I want to repeat,” said Nelson, whose brother Jake won a pair of championships for Culver in 2007 and 2008. “We know each other pretty well. It should make for a good match.”
Bulldog wrestlers Jared Kasch (103 pounds), Josue Gonzales (112), Ryan Kasch (119) and Nick Barany (215) all will wrestle for state championships today.
At the Class 5A state tournament, Crook County sophomore McKennan Buckner (103 pounds) and Madras senior Ryan Brunner all advanced past the semifinals on Friday.
Buckner, the 5A state runner-up at 103 pounds last season as a freshman, is back in the championship finals after blowing out his knee this past summer rodeoing. The Cowboy sophomore defeated Hillsboro freshman Ronnie Bresser 10-4 in the semifinal round.
“I had some confidence issues, but now I’m back,” said Buckner, who since returning to the mat in mid-January is undefeated. “From the very beginning of the (semifinal) match I knew I was going to get it done.”
After getting pinned in the Intermountain Conference district final last week by Hermiston’s Matt Kilsdonk, Brunner will have a shot at redemption in the state finals against his IMC rival. Brunner led 3-2 after two periods in Friday’s semifinal win over Robbie Bird of Thurston before holding on for a win of the same score.
“We don’t have a 5A state title in our wrestling room,” said Brunner, who will try and become the White Buffaloes first state champion since Chad McFarland won a 3A title at 130 pounds in 2002.
In the team standings, Hermiston is almost a lock to win its fourth straight 5A title. The Bulldogs hold a 212-104 lead over second-place Hermiston entering today’s final rounds. Madras ended Friday in 10th place with 60 points, and Crook County was 14th with 50 points.
Redmond sophomore Ryan Haney will be Central Oregon’s lone state-title hope in the Class 6A tournament. Haney, a training partner of Buckner’s, pinned David Douglas freshman Jeremiah Baker in the 103-pound semifinals to earn his first trip to the state finals.
With Haney leading the way, Redmond sits in seventh place with 75 points in the 6A tournament entering today’s final rounds. Roseburg leads the 6A tournament with 254 points, and is followed by current-runner-up Newberg, who ended Friday with 118 points.
Wrestling continues today with consolation rounds beginning at 9 a.m. All championship finals are scheduled for 5:30 p.m.