Ashland High grapplers brace for state

Jake Scarminach most likely has a goal in mind heading into the OSAA Class 5A state wrestling championships, even if he isn't willing to reveal exactly what it is.

"I guess I'd like to come home saying that I gave it my all and I wrestled my best," said the No. 4 seed at 160 pounds, who on Saturday placed second in the Southern Sky Conference district meet. "I don't want to leave anything there."

The junior, who placed fourth at state at 145 last year, is the Grizzlies' best bet to medal, even though he didn't receive a favorable draw. Scarminach opens the 18-man tournament — held Thursday through Saturday at Portland's Memorial Coliseum — against Hillsboro sophomore Troy Jackson. After that his road to the finals could turn bumpy, with possible bouts against No. 5 seed Zach Bishop of Hermiston (quarterfinals) and top-seeded senior Cody Jones of Dallas (semifinals).

Scarminach won't be the only AHS representative at state. Junior heavyweight Sam Cowan, fresh off a second-place SSC showing of his own, and junior 189-pounder Christian Ostmo, the SSC district champ, will also be there.

Scarminach said his experience last year should help this time around. In 2009 he advanced to the semifinals of the 145-pound tourney and won three of five matches overall.

"I think I'm just going to have an overall better feel this year of how the tournament's run," he said. "It's pretty nerve-racking in that big coliseum. There are 14 mats, and it gets pretty loud and intense. It won't be as much as a shell-shock this time."

Cowan will also be making a return trip to state after going two-and-out last year. He's unseeded, but is ranked No. 6 in his weight class by

Cowan's first-round opponent is No. 7-ranked Jarod Bookey of Dallas, a junior. Cowan's also on the same side of the bracket as top-seeded Saia Kofe of Jefferson, a senior.

"No matter what it's going to be tough," Cowan said. "I have a chance — everyone has a chance. Really, if I can just go and wrestle my best, I have a pretty good chance at placing."

Ostmo, fresh off the most impressive showing for a Grizzly at districts, was dealt a knee-buckling blow with his draw. The bad news: Ostmo, who won the SSC tourney's Most Outstanding Wrestler award, starts off in the pigtail round at state. The worse news: His opponent there is No. 2 seed Curtis Berger of Hermiston.

"I'm going to have to do my best to beat (Berger)," Ostmo said. "He's a really good wrestler, as far as I know. Other than him being my first match, I've got a pretty good draw."

If Ostmo can pull off a sub-round stunner, he wouldn't have to face a seeded opponent again until the semifinals.

"If (Ostmo) wins that match, he's got a walk to the finals; if he loses, he's in a great position to wrestle back (through the consolation bracket) for a medal," Ashland head coach Joe Crane said.

Ashland High senior Claire Dawson, the only girl on the team, thought she was also headed to state following a girls' qualifying tournament held last week in Cottage Grove. When Crane called back to confirm, however, he was told that that was a mistake and that Dawson qualified only as an alternate.

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