Grizzlies repeat as state champs

For the second year in a row, the Ashland High boys snowboard team proved to the rest of the state that the sport is alive and well in Southern Oregon.

Bolstered by a first-place finish in the slopestyle competition, the Grizzlies repeated as state champions in the OISA State Championships Saturday at Mount Hood Meadows.

The AHS boys team, which won their first-ever state title last season, earned 1,000 points for its slopestyle win and 450 points in the halfpipe to edge second-place Grant 1,450 to 1,400.

"They were ecstatic to go back to back," said Ashland head coach Matt Faurot, who has led the Grizzlies to seven state titles — five for the girls and two for the boys. "To do it two years in a row, I think it just capped off a really fun trip. I got a couple compliments from various coaches from Mount Hood on how respectful and nice our kids were and . everything really came around."

Two girls also represented Ashland at state — not enough to qualify for a team score — and both fared well. Mimi Charter placed second to Sandy's Kelly Underwood in the slalom, the slopestyle and the halfpipe, while Alisha Jucevic finished sixth in the slalom and seventh in the slopestyle.

The Grizz boys were led in the slopestyle by Max Marvin and Jay Barton, who placed third and fourth, respectively. Also for Ashland, Teja Kritika was sixth, Noa Yates was 12th and Rodney McDaniel was 14th.

In the slalom, Ashland's twin brother combination of Kritika (51.27 seconds) and Kavi Taraka (51.46) finished second and third, respectively, while teammate Yates was 23rd. Elliot Tausher (50.22) of Summit won the event, edging Kritika by 1.05 seconds.

Dylan Hartsell was Ashland's top halfpipe placer, scoring a 165 to finish 14th out of 54 competitors. Fellow Ashlanders Chance Conner (137) and Kritika (126) also finished in the top 35.

A lack of snow forced Ashland to compete without a true halfpipe on its home mountain this season, and that lack of experience put added pressure on the team's slopestyle performance at state.

"I think that the slopestyle team, they knew that it was a must-win," Faurot said. "It just comes pretty natural for them to succeed in slopestyle. It's their favorite event for many of the guys."

And it showed.

Marvin scored a 346 on his first run, the second-best mark at the time, and Barton came through with a 330 on his second run to leapfrog several opponents, including Sandy's Josh Nyland (fifth, 326). That helped Ashland edge Sandy 1,246-1,138 and grab the 1,000 team points that goes to the highest-scoring squad.

In possibly the highlight of the day, Marvin landed a Cab 720, leaping off one of the biggest jumps on the mountain.

"I heard everybody cheering and looked up to see him (land)," Faurot said. "It was probably one of, if not the best trick thrown, in the competition. I think (Marvin) would agree that it was one of the more clean tricks that he has ever landed."

Blizzard-like conditions forced the postponement of the halfpipe on Thursday, forcing the teams to put in an extra-long day to catch up Friday. The snow came down hard again Saturday, but it couldn't derail the Grizzlies' title hopes.

"There would be moments were a snow cloud would just come pouring in and visibility would drop to 100 feet," Faurot said. "You really have to just give a lot of credit to these kids for competing and enduring through such brutal conditions."

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