When Chad Lamer took over the Crescent Valley High wrestling program in the fall of 2014, the Raiders barely had a presence at the state tournament.
They sent just 11 wrestlers to districts that year, and three to state. It was a program on the rise that had produced plenty of talented wrestlers, but still a long way off from being one that could even hope to contend for a district title — let alone a state crown.
A little over six years later, CV has delivered the most dominant performance in the history of the 5A state meet. The Raiders captured their third consecutive 5A crown at Cottage Grove High School last weekend and obliterated the state meet scoring record.
They tallied 364.5 points — 61.5 better than the previous record of 303, which they matched in 2020. In total, 10 different CV wrestlers captured individual state titles among the 14 total weight classes, which was also a record for a single state meet.
“It just shows how hard we worked,” CV sophomore DJ Gillett said. “We put in the hours. To just actually have that record, and be able to go out there and show the state that we were putting in the work the whole time, it shows that we are who we are for a reason.”
It was a triumphant sendoff for the group of seniors that have helped build the program from the ground up. In total, three CV seniors won state titles.
“Those (seniors) definitely set a high standard and it’s going to be tough for us to repeat and have 10 state champs again,” CV coach Chad Lamer said. “I don’t know if it’s ever gonna be possible. But we’ll keep working to continue raising that bar. These boys set it pretty high this year.”
Lamer said the culture that the athletes have created within the program since he took over has created a snowball effect that has allowed it to keep growing and becoming more robust. The success has been contagious and attracted more students to come out for the team, and to transfer into CV from other schools.
That has resulted in CV ascending to become one of the top programs in the state, at any level.
“We have a lot of good kids in the program and they attract others,” Lamer said. “Just guys doing the right things. They’re training year-round, and we stay pretty involved as coaches. The big part of it is having parents who understand what it takes. They’re sending and taking their kids to camps or extra training sessions with club coaches in the offseason. Getting the kids to national tournaments that they need to get to. Now it’s just kind of a culture.”
The wrestlers know that, in most cases, the toughest competition they will face all season is in their own wrestling room.
The desire to keep improving and add to the ever-growing list of state title winners has raised the standard year after year.
“We’re the best team in the state, so we all push each other to be the best that we can in the practice room,” CV senior Jackson Rosado said. “It shows, because 11 of our guys ended up in the state finals.”
Added junior Gabe Whisenhunt: “We’re training with some of the ranked guys in our country. Just to have that in our room, it makes you so much better every day. I train with (Chance Lamer). The guy has made a couple world teams and is about to go to college. He’s been making me a lot better — that back-and-forth competition makes everyone better.”
At 145 pounds, Chance Lamer captured his fourth state title for the Raiders with a first-round pin of Central’s Ethan Dunigan. In doing so, he became just the 38th wrestler in the history of Oregon prep wrestling to win four state titles.
Whisenhunt (126) and James Rowley (185) each won their third consecutive state titles. Gillett (120), Hunter Eveland (138), Daschel Lamer (152), Rosado (170) and Hayden Walters (195) all won their second state titles.
Everest Sutton (106) and junior Riley Godek (285) both won their first titles.
The Raiders had high hopes that they would be able to eclipse the previous points record, but there were still some nerves on the day of the meet. But as the day went on, and more and more CV wrestlers began to pile up points, the momentum and excitement among the group escalated.
“We were all nervous — it was like, still the state finals,” Gillett said. “But the more guys started winning, going out and getting those bonus points, it was huge. Everyone would go in the back in the back room where we were warming up after a win. We were just getting hyped up, everyone was getting super excited for their match. It was awesome.”
The icing on the cake was Godek’s performance in the 285 final. Godek, a junior who wrestled at 152 last season, put in a tremendous amount of work in the weight room in order to bulk up and leap up to the heavyweight class. On Saturday, he only weighed in at 209 pounds, far lighter than most other opponents in the class.
Nonetheless, he defeated Silverton’s Owen Magill by 3-2 decision in the final match of the day.
“The entire team was on the side of the mat watching, cheering him on,” Rosado said. “After he got the last-second takedown, we all just kind of went crazy and everyone was just super hyped about it.”
In addition to the sheer number of titles the Raiders won, there were obviously plenty of wrestlers who contributed to the record-breaking performance without winning a final. Chad Lamer pointed out Anthony Gimino, the No. 4 seed at 132 pounds this year, as somebody who embodies what has made the CV program so special recently.
“That kid, he never complains about anything, he never misses anything, he’s always on time. He just really works his tail off,” Chad Lamer said. “From where he started out at, to where he ended up this year — he got beat in the blood rounds, which is a heartbreaker. But everybody on the team loves that kid. He’s about a 4.0 student and is going to Cal Poly next year for college. He just does everything right… I just wish he had one more year, because he was starting to get really, really tough.”
Jarrid Denney can be reached at 541-521-3214 or via email at Jarrid.Denney@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @jarrid_denney