Ashland High junior Mason Montgomery will put his perfect season on the line today in his quest to win a state championship in the 195-pound weight class at the OSAA Class 5A state wrestling tournament at Portland's Memorial Coliseum.
Fresh off a dominant performance at the District 4 tournament two weeks ago, Montgomery enters the two-day state meet with a 36-0 record and will be looking to improve upon his third-place finish of 2012. He'll be joined by Ashland junior Cody Eisenberg (220 pounds), the only other Grizzly to qualify for state.
Montgomery is seeded third and will be on the bottom of the 16-wrestler bracket along with No. 2 seed Jackson Soto of West Albany. The favorite, top-seeded freshman Samuel Shields-Colbray of Hermiston, is on the other side of the bracket, along with No. 4 seed Ryan Jurgens of Sherwood.
When/Where: Today through Saturday at Portland's Memorial Coliseum.
Grizzlies: Mason Montgomery, junior, 195 pounds, No. 3 seed; Cody Eisenberg, junior, 220 pounds, unseeded.
Montgomery's first-round opponent is Colton Sallee, a sophomore from Lebanon. The winner of that match will face either Ramon Ramirez of Hood River Valley or Dustin Ford of St. Helens in the quarterfinals.
"One of the fundamentals that I teach is to never underestimate any of your opponents, ever," Ashland head coach Tony Champion said of Montgomery's draw. "He should win handily his first couple matches no problem, but you never know. He knows that and understands that."
Montgomery lost in the state semifinals to the eventual state champion last season before rebounding with a 6-3 decision over Trevor Roberts of Mountain View in the third-place match. Montgomery has yet to face Soto, the 2012 runner-up, or Shields-Colbray, a freestyle and Greco-Roman national champion in the 15-16 age bracket.
Champion said that the 195-pound weight class is tougher in 5A than in any other classification this year. But he still expects big things out of Montgomery.
"I've watched video of (Shields-Colbray) and he's very talented, very well-developed," Champion said. "But having said that, Mason is a very well established wrestler himself. I'm fully confident that Mason can come out on top in that match."
For Eisenberg, even advancing beyond the opening round would be a major accomplishment. That's because as the lowest-seeded 220-pounder, he receives the unenviable task of facing top-seeded Steely Smith of West Albany in the opening round. The winner of that match will take on either Hunter Sexsmith of Parkrose or Juan Karlos Hernandez of Hood River Valley in the quarterfinals.
Champion considers Eisenberg a dangerous underdog.
"(Smith) is a pretty solid wrestler," Champion said, "but I have a strategy that I put together the last couple weeks for Cody for this kid. And, a lot of No. 1 kids get knocked out in the first round — all the time.
"I told him, 'Cody, this is a great opportunity for you because if you beat (Smith), you're automatically the No. 1 seed. And I can assure you that you're not the worst guy in the bracket.' Cody has wrestled some good matches against some top-ranked guys."
The 5A tournament is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. today.