By Randy Parks
The Burns Hilanders wrestling team capped off their record-setting season with an awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 31, at Burns High School (BHS).
After winning their eighth straight state championship this year, a feat never accomplished by any other school in Oregon, the Hilanders were recognized by a Congressional Record statement from U.S. Congressman Greg Walden.
BHS graduate and former Hilander wrestler Gary Marshall told the team, coaches and crowd that with the statement by Walden, their accomplishment becomes a part of the official historical record of the United States of America.
Marshall then read the statement, which is as follows:
Congressman Greg Walden
Congressional Record statement
March 30, 2009
“Hilander wrestlers set state title winning streak”
Madam Speaker, I rise today to draw my colleagues’ attention to a remarkable and historic athletic feat achieved by the Burns High School Hilanders wrestling teams of Harney County, Oregon.
On Feb. 28, the Hilanders captured their eighth consecutive 3A state wrestling championship. The streak is unprecedented in the state and mark the first time in any sport, at any level, such an accomplishment has been achieved.
These eight teams, their coaches, and their families are testament to the commitment to hard work that is pervasive throughout Eastern Oregon.
The streak began way back in 2002. Since then, the Hilanders have captured 22 individual state titles, and some have won multiple championships, including Talon Hofman (2001 to 2004), Ben Cate (2003 to 2005), Abe Jacobs (2003 and 2004), and Joe Drinkwater (2008 and 2009).
In 2007, the Hilanders set a new team scoring record for all classifications when they scored 269.5 points at the state championship.
All athletic programs that enjoy longevity of success do so only with the guidance of good leaders. Bill Winn, Mark Hofman, Jeff Kloetzer, and Ray Cate have been tremendous coaches throughout the eight-year run.
Green Bay Packers coaching legend Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort —that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
No doubt, the young men of the Hilanders wrestling program sacrificed more than others in exchange for their committed pursuit of such lofty goals. These wrestlers have spent untold hours running laps around the gymnasium, doing “up-downs” until they thought their lungs couldn’t take anymore, challenging each other in thousands of take-down drills, and critiquing each other’s “first move off the bottom.”
They spent thousands of miles sitting on busses headed for the next contest. They watched their weight but made sure they were physically strong when the time came. They practiced, and practiced, and practiced again until the moves became automatic.
Their many titles are proof of their devotion and sacrifice.
But titles aside, the lessons they learned about what it takes to be the very best are the keepsakes that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. The hardware they’ve earned for their success is, as they say, the icing on the cake.
Madam Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring the Hilanders wrestling program and the Harney County community for their remarkable achievement. Their unprecedented streak is a reminder to us all of the value of dedication, perseverance and good old fashioned hard work.
Marshall’s son, Colby, who is the director of Walden’s Eastern Oregon Office, will be sending a framed copy of the statement to be displayed at BHS.
Head coach Mark Hofman then took the podium and told the crowd, “Our season turned out to be pretty good.”
Hofman said that the team didn’t have any undefeated wrestlers this year, but that’s because of the tough schedule the wrestlers endured throughout the season. “Our schedule takes us to where we want to be once we get to state,” Hofman said.
Hofman introduced, and thanked his assistant coaches Ray Cate, Dally Swindlehurst and Mike Ribeiro, and then introduced this year’s wrestlers and their accomplishments.
The special awards were presented and the winners are as follows:
Most Improved Underclassman — Cody Bennett
Most Improved Wrestler — Landon Hanner
Most Outstanding Underclassman — Raymond Wright
Most Inspirational — Chance Peasley
Most Outstanding Wrestler — Pat Stampke, Josh Cate and Joe Drinkwater
Jeremy Johnson Most Heart Award — Joe Drinkwater.