Four Huskies place at state mat tournament

Four Huskies placed in the top eight in the state meet held at the Memorial Coliseum last Thursday through Friday, putting the Huskies in a tie for 11th place with Baker High School.

Like all state meets, only ten points separated positions eight through fourteen so every match was crucial.

“I wanted us to do better as a team,” said coach Steve Thorpe, “but we lost a couple of matches we shouldn’t have lost.”

On the other hand, several of the wrestlers made contributions not necessarily expected.

Sophomores Tom Helfrich and Colton Cooley each won a match while another sophomore, Trevor Tagle, was just one match away from qualifying in the top eight.

Shane Vandehei, a sophomore at 112 pounds, nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament. In fact, the audience of 4,500 also felt that way and booed the decision of the mat official. In his match against two time state champion and one time runner up, James Grangerof Coquille, Vandehei had come back in the third round to tie it up and send the match into overtime. He made his move and in the eyes of everyone there, including the mat judge, Vandehei had taken control. But the mat official overlooked it and then gave the takedown to Granger later on an equally controversially call.

“Shane may not have been able to come back mentally after that,” said Thorpe, who felt the victory was stolen from him. Vandehei ended up with a sixth place finish, losing both to the 4th place finisher and his old nemesis from Cascade, Tyler Phillips.

At 215 pounds, junior Brandon Martin, may have been the Huskies biggest surprise. After two victories, Martin lost to the eventual sixth place wrestler. In the consolation matches, he won his first match, but then lost to Capital Conference champion Caleb Gaboury of North Marion, 3-2 and to Kutler of Banks 3-1 to take 8th place overall.

“Brandon’s an example of a kid who trained hard, ran, was a good workout partner, and did everything you asked him to do,” said Thorpe. “He never had excuses. He’s a seedable wrestler next year, which will just give him more confidence.”

His older brother, senior heavyweight Rob Martin, had to overcome some more adversity beyond the ankle injury he’s been nursing all year. Coming into the meet, Martin was right in the middle of a case of the flu, but came through with two pins in his first two matches. But the illness eventually began to take its toll and he lost to Cole Linehan of Banks, the eventual second place medalist, 3-1. He had beaten Linehan earlier in the year at the Oregon Classic.

“I was running on fumes because I couldn’t hold anything down,” said Martin, who lost 16 pounds. “Being sick was just another test to see how I would handle it. I guess I handled it pretty well.”

He came back to pin 8th place Max Morrow of Wilsonville before losing his final two matches and finished sixth. With his three pins, Martin also set the school record for pins in a season with 28, eclipsing the old mark of 25 held by Andy Ellis and K.C. Stokes.

Tomas Rosa, a senior at 140 pounds, was the highest Sweet Home placer, taking 5th. Rosa had to endure eight tough matches, two more than most medalists, to get there. After opening with a 14-2 decision over Jake Terrell of Seaside, he lost in a match narrowly to Sam Hale of Elmira, the third place finisher. Then he worked his way steadily through the consolation round, losing only to Zack Griebel of LaPine before completing his endurance test with another win over Terrell, this time 17-16.

“It probably would have been impossible for me to do it last year because I wasn’t in the same shape I’m in this year,” said Rosa. “My energy kind of ran out on me in my second day.”

Still, he was able to hang on, something he has been preparing for with all the extra off season workouts and tournaments.

“I’d like to think this wrestling program has made some changes in Tom’s life,” said Thorpe, who thinks Rosa produced at his highest level. “But coaching Tom has also made some changes in our lives too. With Tom, you never had to wonder whether he was going to wrestle his hardest. It’s good for him to be able to say I did the best I can do.”

And many of the other Sweet Home wrestlers will be able to say that as well.