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Vote for best high school mascot in America, Round 1: Bend Lava Bears vs. Archie Whirlwinds

Bend (Oregon) is the 8 seed and Archie (Missouri) is the 9 seed in the Midwest region

The bracket is set for SBLive Sports' 2024 NCAA Tournament-style contest to determine the best high school mascot in America, and Round 1 is underway.

Vote below for the No. 8-seeded Bend Lava Bears (Oregon) or the No. 9-seeded Archie Whirlwinds (Missouri) to advance to the second round, where the winner will face either the Charles Wright Tarriers (Washington) or Beresford Watchdogs (South Dakota).

The Lava Bears earned an 8 seed by winning last fall's Oregon contest with 49 votes, while the Whirlwinds won Missouri with 25 votes to earn a 9 seed.

Follow along: National Mascot Tournament 2024 Bracket

Voting for this matchup will conclude Wednesday, March 20, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

8. Bend Lava Bears (Oregon)

A bear dripping with lava? Not quite. The lava bear is a legendary variety of black bear found in the lava beds of south central Oregon. The few “lava bears” that were killed or captured were a little larger than a badger. Today, it is acknowledged that lava bears never existed as a unique species. So although Small Bears would be more accurate, Lava Bears sounds way cooler.

9. Archie Whirlwinds (Missouri)

The origin of the Whirlwinds goes back to 1927-28, when the Archie boys basketball team finished 20-3 and was described by a local paper as being "whirlwinds" on the court. Archie has been the Whirlwinds ever since.

-- Mike Swanson | | @sblivesports