GRANTS PASS — Joanne Lemely, Nikki Irvine and Aspyn Gottschalk each claimed gold medals in their respective weight classes, leading the Ashland High girls wrestling team to the team victory in the 12-team Grants Pass Winter Kickoff, Friday at Grants Pass High School.
The Grizzlies, who suited up five wrestlers, earned 105.5 points to edge second-place Eureka (98), which brought 10 wrestlers, and third-place Grants Pass (76).
Besides the three first-place performances, the Grizzlies also received strong performances from Rosemary Weston (silver) and Sofie Bogdanove (bronze).
For the second year in a row, Southern Oregon University men's soccer coach Biniam Afenegus was selected to coach at the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program Boys Winter Interregional, set to take place this weekend in Bradenton, Fla.
Afenegus will be coaching the 2001 Region IV team, which consists of the top high school sophomores from seven states in the western part of the U.S. He's been involved with ODP Region IV soccer for the last nine years and holds a U.S. Soccer Federation National "A" coaching license.
"This opportunity will allow me to coach some of the best players on the west coast," he said. "We'll also get the opportunity to watch and be around the U-17 U.S. national team. It's a great honor and a great opportunity to have SOU soccer represented."
This fall, Afenegus led the Raiders to an 11-3-3 record in the team's second year of existence. They went 9-2-2 in the Cascade Conference and were still in contention for a title on the last day of the regular season.
All but six of the Raiders from that team are eligible to return next season.
At Sweet Home, Tyler Cowger was victorious in his homecoming, but fifth-ranked Montana State-Northern spoiled it by defeating No. 7 Southern Oregon in four of the last five matches for a 23-13 West Group win Thursday night at Sweet Home High.
The Raiders fell to 2-4 in duals. They later dropped an exhibition to Clackamas Community College, the sixth-ranked and 12-0 junior college powerhouse, by a score of 33-6.
Cowger, who won 192 times at Sweet Home High and is the No. 2 149-pounder in the NAIA, ran his record to 14-0 and his dual winning streak to 19 in front of the home fans. He took a 6-1 decision against 16th-ranked Drake Randall and moved into a tie for sixth on SOU's career wins list with his 95th.
His effort followed Caleb Dix's 7-2 win over Dylan Lockwood at 133 pounds, and it preceded third-ranked Hunter Hodges' 12-5 handling of Tommy Cooper at 157. The Hodges win, which made him 15-1 this year, had the Raiders up 9-7. At 165, SOU's Aaron DeMay in his first action of the season nearly upset No. 10 Andrew Bartel but was held off, 1-0, and the Lights took over from there.
Andrew Orr, making his Raider debut at 174, was edged by Steeler French, 4-3. Then MSU-Northern's Ben Stroh, the top-ranked wrestler at 184 in the NAIA, pinned Max Hane to make it 19-9. Seventh-ranked Tanner Fischer (197) kept the Raiders alive with bonus points in a 10-0 win against Dace Fisher, but Lights heavyweight Taylor Kornoely — ranked second — scored a 12-3 major decision over Alejandro Sandoval to finish the job.
The Lights defeated SOU for the second year in a row. Their record stands at 7-2.
In the exhibitions, SOU got its wins from Hane, who topped Andrew Tausch 4-2 at 184, and Fischer — who banked an impressive 4-2 victory against Haszell West, the fifth-ranked 197-pounder in the National Junior College Athletic Association. Though it won't count against his record, Cowger was defeated by second-ranked Josh Reyes in a 3-2 battle.
The Raiders are back in action Sunday, bringing 15 individuals to the Reno Tournament of Champions. Their next duals will be at the NWCA-NAIA National Duals, Jan. 5-6 in Fort Wayne, Ind.