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PREP SWIMMING: Ashland's Frownfelter aims for next step at state

Second place is nothing to be ashamed of, but any competitor will tell you that being able to ascend to that top step of the podium is the only thing that truly commemorates a job well done.

No one in the Rogue Valley is likely more eager to take that next step than Ashland senior swimmer Chris Frownfelter, who twice placed second in last year’s Class 5A swimming state championships and more than anything would like to finish on top in his final run at a state title.

Frownfelter is as likely a championship contender as he has ever been heading into this weekend’s state meet, set Friday and Saturday for all classifications at the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center in Beaverton.

“He’s really looking to be on the top of the podium in both of his events,” said Ashland swim coach Todd Lantry of his lone senior. “He’s really focused on his races to get there this weekend; it’s going to be exciting.”

Frownfelter is seeded first in the 5A 100-yard backstroke, with his time of 54.82 seconds about two seconds faster than nearest qualifier Drew Charley of Lebanon (56.78). In last year’s state meet, Frownfelter finished in a second-place tie behind Crater’s Marcus Reyes-Gentry with his time of 54.31.

Reyes-Gentry had hoped to repeat as state champion — and take a run at the 5A and all-class records — after winning the 100 back in 51.76 in 2019 but a false start at last week’s regional meet left him disqualified.

“It was an unlucky thing for Marcus, I know he was looking to set the state record in the 100 back and when he got disqualified, that kind of changed the equation for everyone,” said Lantry. “Chris, rightfully so, felt really bad for Marcus because they’re good friends and he knew what Marcus was going for. Chris had kind of written off the 100 back just with Marcus being in the 100 back and being so incredibly fast. He was just hoping to get second again, and then there was just this fluke kind of thing.”

Besides striving for Ashland’s first state title since 2012 — the Grizzlies won the boys 400-yard freestyle relay with Kai Staal, Forrest Kollar, Parker Massie and Gus Simms en route to a second-place finish overall — Frownfelter will be seeking to eclipse the school record in the 100 back of 53.56 set in 1991 by Chris Clark.

“He’s been working hard this season,” Lantry added of Frownfelter. “He’s got a lot of talent and a background in swimming and water polo, and he knows what he can do basically. He’s reaching for a little bit more ambitious goals this year and hopefully he can achieve them.”

Frownfelter is also seeded a close third in the 100-yard freestyle at 48.59, just tenths of a second behind West Albany’s Luke Milburn (48.09) and Redmond’s Ryan Konop (48.45). Ashland sophomore Harry Ross is seeded fourth at 49.48.

“That 100 free is going to be quite a race,” said Lantry. “I’m really looking forward to watching that race. I think that event could go any direction, those guys are all right there. At least the top three are going to be coming into the wall at the same moment essentially.”

And should it be a Grizzly to touch first in any of the events this weekend, Lantry and company expect to be on cloud nine.

“It would be so fun,” said Lantry, who began coaching Ashland in 2013. “It’s something you always kind of wish will happen but not something you expect would happen, especially given our background in the Southern Oregon region where there’s not a lot of swimming. We don’t have the depth of the programs like Eugene and Portland and Corvallis do, so when we have somebody going fast, it’s a fun thing for us.”

Frownfelter is also set to swim a leg on Ashland’s eighth-seeded 400 free relay squad with Ross, Jence Berry and Michael Carrabba, who is also seeded fifth in the 500 freestyle (5:08.91).

For the Ashland girls, sophomore Mary Downs is seeded seventh in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:13.09) and eighth in the 500 free (5:44.21), while freshman Amelia Mercado is 11th in the 100 breast (1:17.27).

The Grizzly girls are also seeded 12th in the 400 free relay (4:07.15), with Downs and Mercado joined by Sydney Yox and Anna Sloan.

Even though Reyes-Gentry’s absence will be felt in the 100 back, the Crater sophomore will look to boost his number of state titles to three as the top seed in the 200-yard freestyle. His time of 1:45.14 is three seconds faster than second-seeded Calvin Haynes of Parkrose.

Last year, Reyes-Gentry won Crater’s first swimming state championships when he claimed the 100 back and 500 free.

In the 6A boys meet, North Medford senior Daniel Olson is seeded second in the 50-yard freestyle (21.73) after placing seventh in that event last year. Olson is also seeded 13th in the 100 free (49.44).

South Medford junior Reilly Eiynck earned a wildcard entry into the 6A girls 200-yard freestyle, and her time of 1:58.84 puts her as the No. 15 seed. Eiynck is also expected to swim a leg on the Panthers’ 200-yard freestyle relay squad, which is seeded 10th at 1:44.00.

Joining Eiynck on the relay will be Aubrey Millar, Karissa Cooper and Maryn Ringger.

St. Mary’s and Cascade Christian also carry championship hopes into the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state meet with a handful of top-4 qualifiers.

St. Mary’s sophomore Asa Frisbee leads the charge as the No. 1 seed in the boys 200 free (1:47.13) and No. 2 seed in the boys 100-yard butterfly (55.08), as well as his role on the Crusaders’ third-seeded 400 free relay squad (3:36.33) and fourth-seeded 200 free relay squad (1:38.30).

Frisbee was third in the 500 free and fifth in the 100 back one year ago and was part of the aforementioned relay squads that placed fifth and sixth, respectively.

Joining Frisbee on this year’s relay teams are Noah Stillwell, Charlie Reade and Caleb Bingham.

Cascade Christian senior Braedon Scaglione expects to contend for a title in his events as well. Scaglione is seeded second in the boys 100 breast (1:02.58) and third in the boys 50 free (23.04) and swims a leg on the top-seeded 200 free relay team (1:35.94) and second-seeded 200 medley relay squad (1:47.68).

Scaglione placed third last year in the 100 breast.

Cascade Christian junior Will Pierson is seeded eighth in the 50 free (23.81) as well as the 100 free (54.05), and is part of both Challenger relays with Scaglione, Owen Harrington and Elijah Snyder, who is seeded 11th in the 100 back (1:03.60).

Phoenix junior Nate Wood is seeded seventh in the 100 breast (1:09.85).

In the 4A/3A/2A/1A girls meet, St. Mary’s boasts a few podium potentials. Ahnyka Lahmann enters fourth in the 100 fly (1:02.53) and seventh in the 200-yard individual medley (2:23.73), fellow junior Lucy Gramley is seeded 12th in the 500 free (6:00.05) and 100 breast (1:17.23) and senior Ivy Frisbee is 11th in the 100 back (1:06.46).

Lahmann, Gramley and Frisbee are joined by Hailey Chang in forming the sixth-seeded 200 medley relay squad (2:01.57) and ninth-seeded 400 free relay team (4:12.86).

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry