ASHLAND — The high school wrestling and swimming seasons have reached the biggest platform that Oregon has to offer.
And for a select group of Ashland High School students, they will be looking to do big things on the biggest of stages.
Four swimmers and two wrestlers will all look to claim the top prize in their respective events or weight class at the OSAA championships this weekend. The quartet of swimmers -- Chris Frownfelter, Rileigh Orr, Hunter Oliver and Ziji Donahoo -- will be at Mt. Hood Community College Aquatic Center, while the Grizzlies’ two wrestling representatives will take the mats at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
Prelim events start at 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. this morning for wrestling and swimming, respectively, with any potential podium spots being determined on Saturday night.
“We’ve got a good group. It’s actually rather pleasing and more than we thought would qualify for state,” Ashland swimming coach Todd Lantry said. “It’s tough to qualify for state and there’s five districts in 5A. It’s really competitive to make state and I’m really pleased with how many we have at state this year.”
The two Grizzlies wrestlers, Zach Adler and Trevor Fulton, have both closed the second half of the season strong and are peaking at the right time, according to head coach Adam Turner.
Adler, who will be seeded seventh in the 220-pound class, is back at state after making the consolation bracket at the 182-pound level last year.
Fulton is also back at state for the second straight year,
“Trevor and Zach are our best wrestlers and it’s no surprise they’re at the state tournament. They deserve it.” said Turner, adding both wrestlers have a legitimate shot to make the podium in Portland this weekend.
Adler, competing at the 220-pound weight class, has had a strong senior year where he’s lost just once this season.
That came at the 5A District 3 meet last week to Beau Crawford of Crater.
If all goes according to plan, Adler could see Crawford once again with a state title on the line.
“He hasn’t been on the podium, but he has a good chance this year,” Turner said. “We have a good game plan for Friday and Saturday here, and if he executes it well we will have a state champion on our hands.”
Fulton, a junior, has had a strong second half of the season after an early-season illness caused some him to struggle out of the gate.
He finished third in the 170-pound class at districts, and Turner believes Fulton’s best wrestling has come ever since the calendar flipped to 2018.
“He turned a corner around Christmas. He’s only had three losses on the backside of the season and I think he’s peaking at the right time,” Turner said. “He’s the kind of kid who surprises people because he never gives up. You can never count him out. He wins a lot of matches he shouldn’t because he never gives up.”
Frownfelter is the only Ashland swimmer that enters the weekend with any kind of previous experience at the state level, advancing to the 5A championships as a freshman in 2017.
Having won the 100 yard backstroke, Frownfelter enters the state meet seeded ninth.
He will be looking to improve upon his 10th-place finish in the same event last year.
“Chris has been dedicated on fine-tuning his stroke and his turning all season. He’s kicking out under water a lot better,” Lantry said. “He’s’ been dropping time all season. He struggled with that a little last season, but it’s real exciting and he’s really clicked in.”
Donahoo is the only other Ashland swimmer competing in an individual event after making the field for the 100 yard freestyle after finishing third at the District 3 meet.
“He got sick earlier in the season, but he really dialed in when he got healthy and got going again,” Lantry said of Donahoo, who is also a sophomore. “He got in on a wild card and is really excited to get going (at state).”
Frownfelter and Donahoo, along with Orr and Oliver, will compete together in the 200 medley.
“I settled on what my relays were going to be pretty early in the season, and it’s worked out,” Lantry said. “They know how each other swims, know how each other finish. … They came together to really get the goal of getting to state. It kept them focused and they know they have another year. They’ve come a long way in the last few years.”
Danny Penza can be reached at 541-776-4483 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.