Chafin signs letter of intent to wrestle for Eastern Oregon

Paige Chafin signed a letter of intent Thursday, Dec. 16, to wrestle for Eastern Oregon University, in a ceremony held in the Main Gym immediately before Sweet Home hosted three other teams in a round-robin dual meet.

Chafin, a senior, said she “looked at a lot of places” before choosing the La Grande-based Mountaineers

Eastern Oregon, under Head Coach Carlene Sluberski, was ranked 16th in the latest national NAIA poll released last week. The Mountaineers compete in the Cascade Collegiate Conference, which includes Southern Oregon and Corban, both of which are ranked in the top-20 nationally.

The only other Sweet Home girls to sign to wrestle in college, Marissa Kurtz and Lexi Schilling, signed with those two schools respectively, though Schilling is no longer wrestling.

Chafin said she liked the school and the team.

“All the girls were welcoming,” she said.

She said one of her acquaintances from the growing sport of women’s wrestling is also attending Eastern Oregon and “she put in a good word for me.”

Once she contacted the Mountie coaching staff, Chafin said, “they got interested.”

“They were way out there (in terms of interest), compared to other schools that contacted me.”

Plus, she said, Eastern Oregon has a cooperative pre-veterinary program with Oregon State University, which is the field she’s interested in pursuing.

“I think Paige’s decision to go to Eastern is very smart, very mature for her,” said Sweet Home Head Coach Steve Thorpe. “She liked the fit. She visited other schools, it has exactly what she wants to study and that’s ultimately No. 1, the most important thing.”

Chafin, who started wrestling seriously as an eighth-grader in 2016, finished third in the state as a junior last June, wrestling at 105 pounds. She said she has sought opportunities to build her skills outside of high school, wrestling with clubs and at tournaments throughout the region.

“Technically, I wrestle year-round,” she said. “I never really have an off-season.”

She is currently ranked in the top three in the state, Thorpe said.

“I’m really proud of her,” he said. “What she’s done, she’s taken advantage of all the opportunities she’s had. She’s traveled with Team Oregon. Her dad has taken her to tournaments. She’s done all those things that, if you want to be successful, you have to do. It’s kind of exciting to see where she’s ended up with it.”