When he was putting together his initial football staff at North Medford High, Mike Mitchell put a particularly different spin on his...
PORTLAND — The effort by Eagle Point senior Hunter Hoeptner was quick, the one by Ashland senior Mason Montgomery a little more methodical.
Either way, the result was the same during final-day action at the Class 5A wrestling state tournament at Memorial Coliseum.
Hoeptner secured the 160-pound state championship for the Eagles with a stunning pin in 1 minute, 47 seconds, while Montgomery gave the Grizzlies their own individual champion when he outlasted his foe for a 3-1 decision at 220.
For good measure, Ashland senior Cody Frost-Eisenberg almost made it back-to-back championships for a Grizzly program that was nonexistent only a handful of years ago before ultimately succumbing 4-2 to defending champion Semise Kofe in the heavyweight finals.
And, as the cherry on top, Eagle Point secured its first team trophy since a third-place showing in 2011 to cap an all-around good weekend for the Rogue Valley contingent.
Hermiston edged Dallas for its seventh Class 5A team title in the past eight years, 174-145.5, while Lebanon was third at 134 and Eagle Point fourth at 111.5.
"It was a pretty even group of teams and getting a trophy out of this was a pretty big feat, really," said Eagle Point head coach Kacey McNulty. "We actually were seeded sixth and placed fourth, and there were probably seven or eight teams, if they would've had good tournaments, that could've bumped us off."
No one was going to be able to bump Hoeptner off during this tournament. In his final go-round after placing third one year ago, the Eagle Point standout was clearly the aggressor in all four of his wins — three coming by fall.
"One of my main goals here was to just attack, attack, attack and do what I always do," said Hoeptner.
That spirit served him well throughout but it didn't stop him from needing a moment to focus prior to heading out for his first championship final.
"I was really nervous," he admitted. "This year I went skydiving for the first time and I think I was equally as nervous for this match, but I went into it and kept the same game plan and I was just ready to win."
Hoeptner actually allowed the match's first takedown when No. 4 seed Kyle Hammond of Cleveland swooped in with 1:35 to go in the first round. After that, however, it was all Hoeptner.
"He had a good shot and maybe I wasn't prepared for that and it caught me off guard," he said, "but it just snapped me into motion and I went after that."
Hoeptner scored an escape and his own takedown in a blink of an eye to gain the upper-hand, then caught Hammond in a near cradle and it only became a matter of time as he tightened his grip.
"I love that move and when it worked I felt like crying," said Hoeptner. "It was pretty awesome, all my hard work has paid off."
The same sensation came over Montgomery after his long-awaited victory.
The Ashland standout was third as a sophomore and suffered his only loss of the season in the 195-pound finals last year. This year he again came into the tournament undefeated and was more than relieved to leave the same way, becoming Ashland's first state champion since Charles Taylor in 1973. The program's only other state title was won by Frank Goodlett in 1971.
"I'm just so thankful and blessed for the coaching staff and support from all my family and friends," said Montgomery. "I'm just happy that I set a goal three years ago to win a state championship and came one match short the last two years but this year I finally achieved that goal. I'm so happy with myself and with everyone around me."
Facing West Albany's Steely Smith, who was runner-up at 220 last year and also placed second in 2012, Montgomery knew he'd have his hands full. The two wrestlers battled to a stalemate in the first round, but Montgomery's constant pressure finally produced a 3-0 lead in the second — highlighted by a takedown with eight seconds to go in the round.
"I just knew whoever was going to get that takedown was going to win the match and I got lucky enough to get it," said Montgomery. "I'd like to think it wasn't all luck, though, it was a lot of hours put in running and training."
"I love wrestling the best," he added. "I was excited that I got to wrestle (Smith) in this tournament, but more excited that I got to beat him."
Smith cut into his deficit with an escape almost immediately to open the third, but Montgomery kept up the pressure and didn't leave any window of opportunity open for a potential comeback.
"Mason wrestled a perfect match," said Ashland head coach Tony Champion. "If I could've predicted the score ahead of time it would've been exactly that score. It was an excellent match. They're well-matched and both good wrestlers, but Mason deserved it."
Frost-Eisenberg would have made a deserving champion as well, but it just didn't happen for him against Roosevelt's Kofe. The Ashland senior was aggressive in going for throws but just couldn't complete most of them against the heavier opponent.
Frost-Eisenberg put Kofe to the mat with 55 seconds to go in the first round. Kofe landed on his back but was able to roll out of bounds before the Grizzly could do more damage up 2-1.
"Just a little bit closer he might've had him on his back and once you get a guy that big on his back it's tough for them to get off," said Champion.
The good fortune for Kofe led to a restart and a quick escape by the defending champion for a 2-all tie. Kofe then earned a takedown of his own to go up 4-2 with 30 seconds to go in the second. Despite his efforts, including a couple of tosses of Kofe to the mat in the third, Frost-Eisenberg wasn't able to score an equalizer.
"I thought a takedown from Cody would've won that match," said Champion. "He just got unlucky and got taken down but he did exactly what I told him to do. But 4-2 is not a bad turnout."
"I couldn't ask anymore of both those guys," added the coach. "They did a great job and wrestled hard. We had two guys in the finals and that's a pretty spectacular job for our team."
Eagle Point had all the makings for an even bigger run on Saturday but the Eagles couldn't quite muster the magic. Only Hoeptner advanced among the team's four semifinalists, although six of EP's seven holdovers from Day 1 were able to make it into the placing rounds.
"I've got to hand it to the kids," said McNulty. "We had a great round this morning with those kids in the back."
Joining Hoeptner as state placers for the Eagles were Alek Callahan (third at 132), Eddie Perez-Rivera (fourth at 126), James McCoy (fourth at 152), Ethan Pomeroy (fourth at 195) and Sean Freeman (sixth at 170).
Callahan edged Lebanon's Charlie Vandetta 8-6 in the third-place final, while Perez-Rivera lost by technical fall to Wilson's Austin Wallace-Lister, McCoy lost 11-4 to Sandy's C.J. McKinnis and Pomeroy was pinned by Sherwood's Ryan Jurgens in that same round.
In the girls wrestling exhibition finals, Ashland's Sadie Bailey was quick and convincing in winning her weight class. Bailey scored a quick toss and then wrenched her opponent in for a pin in just over a minute.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — Hermiston 174, Dallas 145.5, Lebanon 134, Eagle Point 111.5, Sandy 97, Churchill 86, Mountain View 72.5, Jefferson 71, Sherwood 70, West Albany 64.
OTHER LOCAL SCORES — Ashland 51.
106 — Liam Tarvin, Hermiston, dec. Conner Duhn, Mountain View, 12-2; 113 — Andrew Nelson, Lebanon, dec. Halen Jolley, Sherwood, 4-3; 120 — Isaac Aguilar, Hermiston, dec. Jake Ayers, Churchill, 9-6; 126 — Christian Marquez, Hood River Valley, dec. Matt Hofenbredl, 14-8 OT; 132 — Alex Rich, Crescent Valley, dec. Jasiah Williams, Jefferson, 5-3.
138 — Joshua Reyes, Parkrose, major dec. Kaleb Winebarger, Mountain View, 13-4; 145 — Ryan Spencer, Dallas, dec. Tracy Pitcher, Mountain View, 6-3; 152 — KiAnte Davis, Lebanon, dec. Hunter Dehlin, Liberty, 5-2; 160 — Hunter Hoeptner, Eagle Point, pinned Kyle Hammond, Cleveland, 1:47.
170 — Colton Sallee, Lebanon, dec. Devin White, Sandy, 5-1; 182 — Haszell West, Jefferson, major dec. Jeremy Funk, Sandy, 13-3; 195 — Samuel Shields-Colbray, Hermiston, dec. Jackson Soto, West Albany, 7-3; 220 — Mason Montgomery, Ashland, dec. Steely Smith, West Albany, 3-1; 285 — Semise Kofe, Roosevelt, dec. Cody Frost-Eisenberg, Ashland, 4-2.
126 — Austin Wallace-Lister, Wilson, tech. fall Eddie Perez-Rivera, Eagle Point, 19-3; 132 — Alek Callahan, Eagle Point, dec. Charlie Vandetta, Lebanon, 8-6; 152 — C.J. McKinnis, Sandy, dec. James McCoy, Eagle Point, 11-4; 195 — Ryan Jurgens, Sherwood, pinned Ethan Pomeroy, Eagle Point, 1:10.
170 — David Horsey, Silverton, pinned Sean Freeman, Eagle Point, 1:49.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry