Grizzlies' eyes on the prize

So far, Ashland's 220-pound wrecking ball Mason Montgomery has spent the majority of his senior season pulverizing one opponent after another, going 23-0 in the process with 15 pins.

Now comes the hard part — grappling his way through a 16-man state meet bracket loaded with wrestlers who have the potential to hang with Montgomery.

"You know, those are the things that we train for," Ashland coach Tony Champion said. "We don't train for the pins, or the matches that we win by 15 points. In our room, we train for the matches that are going to be close. And it's the little things that make a difference in a tournament like this."

Montgomery is hoping he does enough little things right today and Saturday to bring home a big thing — a state championship that could be the first for an AHS wrestler since 1973. That's an awful long draught, but Champion believes both Montgomery and 285-pound senior Cody Frost-Eisenberg are primed to make history this weekend. Then there's senior Sadie Bailey, who could steal their thunder by winning a girls state championship Saturday afternoon, mere hours before the OSAA state titles are set to be decided.

"I think it's going to be entertaining," Champion said.

Montgomery, Frost-Eisenberg and 195-pound sophomore Chance Swenson each will represent the Grizzlies at the Class 5A state championships, which begin today and wrap up with championship matches Saturday night at Portland's Memorial Coliseum.

Montgomery and Frost-Eiseberg both are seeded No. 2 in their respective weight classes, while Swenson is unseeded and, in a case of terrible luck of the draw, matched up in the opening round against reigning 195 champion, juggernaut Samuel Shields-Colbray of Hermiston. Shields-Colbray is 42-0 with 32 pins and has the distinction of being the last guy to beat Montgomery — by a 7-2 decision in last year's 195-pound state final.

Montgomery, who's 23-0 with 15 pins, is expected to make another long run this year after placing third in the 195-pound weight class in 2012 and second last season. He'll face Brandon Redeau (10-7), a junior from Roosevelt, in the first round of the 16-man bracket. Also on Montgomery's side of the bracket is No. 3 seed Michael Finn, a senior from Hermiston who's 27-12. On the opposite side of the bracket is top seed Steely Smith, a senior from West Albany who's been nearly as dominant as Montgomery, with 34 wins in 35 matches and 19 pins.

Montgomery can exact a little revenge on behalf of his teammate should he face Smith in the final. Smith edged Frost-Eisenberg in triple-overtime in a first-round match last season, then went on to place second.

"He's completely ready to go," Champion said of Montgomery. "He's really tuned in. You can never underestimate anybody, ever, but he's ready to go. He knows who he has to beat in this tournament. And physiologically, (Montgomery) matches up well with Smith."

Frost-Eisenberg, who enters the meet 22-2 with 17 pins, received a tough draw, especially for a No. 2 seed. He'll face Tony Munoz, a sophomore from Wilsonville, in the first round. Munoz qualified by going 3-2 in the District 1 tournament. A win there would probably earn Frost-Eisenberg a much-anticipated rematch with Devon Wade, a senior from West Albany, in the quarterfinals. Wade is 33-4 with 17 pins, and pulled out a 4-2 decision over Frost-Eisenberg Dec. 21 at the Grants Pass Winter Kickoff.

Also on Frost-Eisenberg's side of the bracket is No. 3 seed Tristan Glaser (20-5), a senior from South Albany. The No. 1 seed in the heavyweight division is Semise Kofe, a senior from Roosevelt who's 11-1 with five pins.

"Cody's in a tough tournament — there's no easy road," Champion said. "But he's got the skills to take it the distance. He could win this tournament. I don't think (Wade) is in the same class as Cody. Cody's wrestling strong right now, and a lot of this sport is getting your athletes to peak at the right time. How you're wrestling at the beginning of the season doesn't necessarily reflect how you are at the end. They understand that our focus is to be the best wrestler at the end."

Bailey is the top-ranked 128-pound wrestler in the girls state tourney, which will feature four Grizzlies: Bailey, Sofie Bogdanove (115), Sydney Norvell (134) and Ditte Rossau (154). Each girls' bracket includes four wrestlers. Rossau is seeded second in her weight class, Norvell third and Bogdanove fourth.

A link to live streaming video of the OSAA championships can be found at

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