ASHLAND — The Ashland High wrestling team continued its resurgence but couldn't hold a late lead as South Medford's Dominic Deitrick pinned Lucian Farrow in the final match to lock up a 41-39 comeback win for the Panthers in a nonleague dual meet at Mountain Avenue Gym on Thursday.
The Grizzlies entered the match with a roster 35 wrestlers strong, believed to be the largest in AHS wrestling history, and led most of the way against South Medford before Deitrick used an underhook to drive Farrow into the mat en route to a quick pin in 1 minute, 14 seconds.
South Medford coach Greg Bryant had confidence in Deitrick, telling him before the big match, "We need a major decision, but I expect you to get a fall out there."
The dual-clinching pin was one of seven on the day, including five by South Medford, which overcame four forfeits.
"(Deitrick) went out there expecting to get a fall and he worked and got it," Bryant said. "He knew what he had to do and he did it."
The loss was a tough one for Ashland, a program on the rise that placed ninth recently at the Grants Pass Winter Kickoff.
"It was close, but we're coming along," Ashland head coach Tony Champion said. "It wasn't that long ago we were losing those duals 50-10. All the matches were very competitive even though there were a lot of pins. "» I figured we were going to win, but we lost a couple I did not think we were going to lose. That's the way it goes."
South Medford's Braden Maloney opened the dual by pinning Isaac Hyatt in 1:43 in the 126-pound match, kicking off a three-pin start by the Panthers. After Nik Hegler kept the momentum going for the visitors with a technical fall victory over Chris Bowland, Ashland's Sam Gostnell pinned Ruben Mendez in 3:25 in the 160-pound match to stop the streak. Moments later, South's Brandon Brooks answered at 170 with a quick pin of Kiowa Jayne.
The Montgomery brothers — Max at 182 and Mason at 220 — continued their stellar seasons to seize the momentum back for the Grizzlies, who fell to 0-2 in duals. Max Montgomery improved to 10-3 with a hard-fought 4-1 decision over Ian Witter, and Mason Montgomery needed just 30 seconds to pin Zach Hester and improve to 12-0.
Gostnell surprised the Panthers at 160 after being pinned by Mendez in their previous three matches.
"He just put it all together," Champion said of Gostnell, who's 8-1 and ranked No. 5 in the state. "He's much more aggressive and he really stays focused on the matt. He doesn't make the mistakes that he's made in the past and his overall toughness is three times what it was last year."
Champion also praised the Montgomery brothers for their continued development. Mason Montgomery has pinned 11 of his 12 opponents.
"He's a tremendous athlete," Champion said of last year's Class 5A state runner-up.
Forfeits at 285, 106 and 113 set up the big finale, and Deitrick did not let the opportunity go to waste.
"At practice, we talk a lot about taking a guy off his feet to his back," Bryant said. "I think that's what (Deitrick) did. (Farrow) was working for an escape and (Deitrick) ended up taking him to his back, kept him there and made a few good adjustments."
TEAM SCORE — South Medford 41, Ashland 39.
106 — Tarquin Daley, A, won by forfeit; 113 — Jarrod Reichert, A, won by forfeit; 120 — Dominic Deitrick, SM, pinned Lucian Farrow, 1:14; *126 — Braden Maloney, SM, pinned Isaac Hyatt, 1:43; 132 — T.J. Roberts, SM, pinned Sadie Bailey, 2:46.
138 — Gary Steele, SM, pinned Callahan Burns, 1:00; 145 — Nik Hegler, SM, tech. fall, Chris Bowland, 5:57; 152 — Andrew Stark, A, won by forfeit; 160 — Sam Gostnell, A, pinned Ruben Mendez, 3:25.
170 — Brandon Brooks, SM, pinned Kiowa Jayne, :34; 182 — Max Montgomery, A, dec. Ian Witter, 4-1; 195 — Austyn Miles, SM, pinned Chance Swanson, 1:11; 220 — Mason Montgomery, A, pinned Zach Hester, :30; 285 — Liam Weston, A, won by forfeit.
* starting weight