Huskies qualify 19 for state in winning regional wrestling title

Scott Swanson

Sweet Home won its fifth straight boys regional wrestling championship Saturday at Junction City in an OSAA 4A Special District 2 tournament that was re-jiggered by weather concerns.

A longer day on Friday – which ended up including the blood round and semifinals due to predictions of possible snow and ice on Saturday – didn’t faze the Huskies. They finished with 19 state qualifiers and 478.5 points, to 243.5 for second-place Junction City and 239.5 for third-place Cascade.

It was the second regional wrestling win this year for Sweet Home after the girls team won its tournament the previous weekend, Coach Steve Thorpe noted.

“It as a good regional tournament,” he said. “Putting a couple of those together is pretty cool. I’m incredibly proud of how our team responded to the weather situation and change of schedule. It was pretty incredible how they rose to the occasion and didn’t let that affect them.

“We entered 28 guys. We placed 25 of 28. Even the kids that went out of the tournament – I can honestly say we did not lack anybody who didn’t compete and work their tails off.”

The Huskies finished with eight regional champions: Tristan Spencer at 120; Robert Watkins at 126; Jackson Royer at 132; Robbie Yunke at 145; Travis Thorpe at 152; Hayden McDonald at 160; Nich James at 182; and David McMullen at 285. Seven of the place-winner matches, including six of the first-place bouts, were all-Sweet Home.

Qualifiers for state, in addition to the champions, are Kyle Watkins and Treyson Smith, who placed third and fourth, respectively, at 106 pounds; Connor Ford, third, and Christian Gregory, fourth at 113; Keegan Fox, second at 120; Brayden Newport, second at 126; Bryce Porter, second at 132; Gavin Walberg, fourth at 138; Boe Baxter, second at 152; Jesse Jamison, second at 160; and Austin Olin, fourth at 195.

Travis Thorpe was named outstanding wrestler for the lower weights, 106-152, and Steve Thorpe was named Regional Coach of the Year.

“That’s a coaching staff of the year,” he clarified. “I surround myself with very good coaches. That, right there, is what makes it count for us.”

He emphasized that the regional title also wasn’t just the work of the 19 state qualifiers.

“I’m very proud of what these guys did – our entire team ,: Thorpe said. “They competed and they did their job.

“We knew we were going to win that tournament. That was never even a question. It was ‘What are we going to get accomplished? How far can we go? How many guys can we get qualified?’

“Our focus, from the beginning of the year, has been 100 percent go there and win regionals and qualify guys for the state tournament.”

The 106-pound class featured Mauro Michel of Cascade, who is unbeaten in 4A competition this year, and Cameron Truesdell of Junction City, who was third at state last year, “two of the best 106-pound wrestlers in the state in our division,” Thorpe said. Both Smith and Watkins didn’t flinch in the face of that competition, he said.

“I love that we went out and competed against them. It’s very realistic to say that at 106 pounds, four of six placers from our state could be from our region. It’s just a huge thing.”

Ford, at 113, made the tournament last year, which will help him this year, Thorpe predicted.

Fox, unseeded at 120, scored an 18-2 technical fall over No. 2-seed Logan Cave of Elmira, then pinned No. 3 Brady Libby of Siuslaw before falling to Spencer, his own teammate.

“I’m very proud of how Keegan and Tristan dominated that weight class,” Thorpe said.

At 126, the Huskies’ depth showed up in “book-ends,” with Watkins, a senior, having to battle freshman Newport to a 5-1 decision in the final.

Watkins missed much of the regular season last year to an injury, which effectively deep-sixed his championship season, though he did qualify for state.

“It’s great to see him get a district title,” Thorpe said. “That was a great match. Both of those guys have worked very, very hard They had to cut a lot of weight. It’s nice to see them get the reward of hard work paying off – and hard work does pay off.”

Watkins said it “feels great” to get the win.

“Last year I wasn’t feeling well,” he said. “I’m feeling good this year. I’m ready for state.”

At 132 pounds, the Huskies had an all-junior final in Royer and Porter, both returning state place-winners.

“Bryce, although he hasn’t been in the varsity line-up as much, he’s been able to get a lot of varsity matches,” Thorpe said, noting that Porter earned a 13-5 major decision over Elmira’s Hunter Davis, ranked No. 7 in the state, in the semifinals.

“He competed like he always does. He kept wearing the kid down until he imposed his will on the guy.”

He said Royer has been “steadily consistent” all season.

“His maturity and strength between this year and last year are night and day,” Thorpe said.

At 138 pounds, Walberg gets a shot at state after missing out last year. Unseeded in this year’s regional, he scored an 11-0 major decision over No. 4 seed Hunter McCaskill of Philomath on his way to the consolation final.

“I would have liked to see him wrestle better in the third-place match,” in which Walberg got pinned by Cascade’s Joseph Baxter, Thorpe said, but “he competed and he’s going to the state tournament.”

One of the head-turners of the day was Robbie Yunke at 145 pounds, who beat Cascade’s Noah Thompson 9-7 in the final, Yunke’s first win in six meetings between the two, according to Thorpe.

Yunke was up 7-2 going into the final period, when Thompson started battling back, but Yunke held on.

“I planned on winning it,” he said. “I knew I was good. I was up by five, so even if I got turned, I’d still be up by two. I knew he wasn’t going to be able to turn me again. So I just played it calm.

“The biggest thing was staying calm. If I could stay calm, I knew I’d get the win and that’s what happened.”

Thorpe said Yunke’s “consistent” work ethic paid off.

“Robbie showed up. He went into the finals ready to wrestle, ready to compete. Being tough has nothing to do with how you talk or how you look. Being tough is a willingness to show up. He didn’t look for a way to wrestle (Thompson). He went right at him. Noah is a great wrestler. In my opinion, Robbie is an outstanding wrestler.”

An all-Sweet Home 152-pound final featured Travis Thorpe and Boe Baxter, who decided to drop down from 160, where he’s wrestled all season. The two are daily workout partners. Thorpe won 2-1 in overtime after Baxter was called for an illegal headlock.

“I knew it was going to be close match,” Steve Thorpe said. “I knew it was not going to be high-scoring. It’s tough, very difficult to see two teammates in the finals together. They both know how each other wrestle and they’re both good.

“They’re both going to state. That’s good. I hope, for the team’s sake, they wrestle reach other in the finals at the state tournament.”

Another head-turner was freshman Jamison at 160 pounds, who faced senior teammate McDonald in the final. McDonald has had a tremendous season that has him ranked No. 2 in the state going into the championships, Thorpe noted.

“Hayden has come on incredibly srong this year. He’s surprised me with what he’s done.”

Jamison, an unseeded freshman, pinned No. 2 seed Brandon Anderson of Junction City in the semifinals before losing 13-6 to his teammate.

“He wrestled hard,” Thorpe said of Jamison, who, he said, “does all the extra things” to be better in the sport. “He wrestled with confidence. I’m glad the tournament went the way it did.”

At 182 pounds, James “dominated,” Thorpe said. “He’s picking a very good time to wrestle well. He looked very good.”

Another surprise was senior – and high school wrestling rookie – Olin at 195, who had “a tournament of a lifetime,” according to Thorpe, who confessed he has mixed feelings when seniors come out – particularly when they do well.

“I’m mad that they don’t come out as freshmen.”

He noted that Olin, who steadily improved and cracked the varsity during the latter part of the season, never missed a workout despite injuries, oral surgery and getting sick the week before the regional tournament – when he worked out at home.

“The kid absolutely earned it,” Thorpe said.

Olin said he won the qualifying spot with a Bulldog move he’d learned on Saturday, which he used to pin Connor Kohn of Philomath, who was ahead on points, in the consolation semis.

“I learned (it) 20 minutes before my match, from Nich James,” he said. “And I wouldn’t be here without him. He’s such a good partner.

“It feels like it’s not real,” added Olin, who last wrestled in seventh grade.

“Honestly, Coach Thorpe always says it’s not an accident. I just have to stick true to the system because I’ve been working hard, had some injury problems. It’s just a crazy feeling. You never expect to come into a sport the first year and be able to make it to the last tournament. I definitely would not be here without them.”

Junior heavyweight David McMullen, who is one of the smaller wrestlers in that division, put an exclamation mark on the day for Sweet Home by winning the 285-pound title in overtime over Junction City’s Bryer Moore, who had beaten him in Sweet Home two weeks earlier. Moore led the match 1-0 until, with nine seconds left, McMullen was awarded an escape, tying the score.

Moore had already been warned for stalling during the third period and, with 40 seconds gone in overtime, he got called again after backing out of the ring, as McMullen tried to generate some offense, giving McMullen the winning point.

“I was expecting a really tough match,” McMullen said. “Me and that kid have wrestled since, like, eighth grade, going back and forth. I’m really happy it worked out. It was a tough match. He was a tough kid.

“I felt like, yes, he was stalling for sure. He bounced out of bounds, like, four times. I was trying to do my offense. (The call) was warranted, yes.

“It feels awesome.”

The state tournament will be held at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland Feb. 22-23. Seedings will be released early next week.

OSAA 4A Special District 2 Championships

Team Scores – (1) Sweet Home 478.5; (2) Junction Dity 243.5; (3) Cascade 239.5; (4) Philomath 162; (5) Elmira 132.5; (6) Stayton 117; (7) Siuslaw 99.5; (8) Newport 47.

Sweet Home Results

106 –Treyson Smith pinned Donald Morgan (Stayton) (0:23); lost by tech fall to Mauro Michel (Cascade) (5:27 17-2); won 9-0 maj. dec. over Blake Niemann (Philomath); lost 2-0 to Kyle Watkins (SH); placed fourth.

106 – Kyle Watkins won by tech fall over Jonathan Mazo-Amezaga (Newport) (5:39 16-1); lost 6-0 to Cameron Truesdell (Junction City); pinned Timothy Jones (Junction City) (0:34); dec. Treyson Smith (SH) 2-0; placed third.

113 – Connor Ford won 10-0 major decision over Daniel Moore (Cascade); lost 8-0 maj. dec. to Zane Shadrick (Junction City); pinned Michael Godin (Philomath) (0:46); pinned Christian Gregory (SH) (0:48); placed third.

113 – Christian Gregory was pinned by Evan Potter (Junction City) (3:47); dec. Daniel Moore (Cascade) 6-0; was pinned by Connor Ford (SH) (0:48); placed fourth.

120 – Tristan Spencer pinned Ben Gary (Philomath) (0:26); won by tech fall over Elijah Howard (Stayton) (5:30 21-5); pinned Keegan Fox (SH) (2:48); placed first.

120 – Keegan Fox won by tech fall over Logan Cave (Elmira) (6:00 18-2); pinned Brady Libby (Siuslaw) (0:54); was pinned by Tristan Spencer (SH) (2:48); placed second.

126 – Brayden Newport pinned Ian Drago (Elmira) (2:57); pinned Elijah LaCosse (Siuslaw) (3:52) lost 5-1 to Robert Watkins (SH); placed second.

126 – Robert Watkins pinned Zethan Brandenberger (Newport) (0:35); pinned Gage Olson (Cascade) (1:18); won 10-0 major decision over Blaise Pindell (Philomath); dec. Brayden Newport (SH) 5-1;

placed first.

132 – Bryce Porter pinned Connor Hollenbeck (Stayton) (0:19); pinned Charles Franklin (Cascade)(0:35); won 13-5 major decision over Hunter Davis (Elmira); was pinned by Jackson Royer (SH) (1:59); placed second.

132 – Jackson Royer pinned Zachary Fulgham (Cascade) (0:50); pinned Tanner Goodman (Stayton) (1:07); pinned Bryce Porter (SH) (1:59); placed first.

138 – Gavin Walberg pinned Tyler Feltz (Elmira) (0:58); won 11-0 major decision over Hunter McCaskill (Philomath); was pinned by Kane Nixon (Cascade) (1:03); pinned Brandon Gilliam (Junction City) (1:06); was pinned by Joseph Baxter (Cascade) (4:00); placed fourth.

138 – Parker Lemmer was pinned by Joseph Baxter (Cascade) (3:18); was pinned by Brandon Gilliam (Junction City) (2:35); did not place.

145 – Robbie Yunke pinned Cooper Latz (Philomath) (0:21); pinned Ruben Fox (Elmira) (1:04); pinned Garrett O`Callaghan (Junction City) (1:24); dec. Noah Thompson (Cascade) 9-7; placed first.

145 – Isaac Schaffer pinned Morgan French (Philomath) (3:23); pinned Ezra Haddy (Junction City) (1:05); was pinned by Noah Thompson (Cascade) (0:52); was pinned by Ben Roth (Cascade) (3:00); pinned Morgan French (Philomath) (0:37); placed fifth.

152 – Travis Thorpe pinned Matthew Dean (Junction City) (1:44); pinned Ryan Jennings (Siuslaw)(3:26); won 2-1 in sudden overtime over Boe Baxter (SH); placed first.

152 – Boe Baxter pinned Tyler Herndon (Elmira) (1:16); dec. Tanner Gibson (Junction City) 9-6; lost 2-1 in sudden overtime to Travis Thorpe (SH); placed second.

160 – Jesse Jamison pinned Blake Lewis (Cascade) (4:30); pinned Brandon Andresen (Junction City) (5:10); lost 13-6 to Hayden McDonald (SH); placed second.

160 – Hayden McDonald won by forfeit over Jose Dorantzs (Newport); won by forfeit over Caleb Markey (Stayton); pinned Emmett Henderson (Junction City) (1:03); dec. Jesse Jamison (SH) 13-6; placed first.

170 – Noah Moore was pinned by Riley Jennings (Siuslaw) (3:19); pinned Jacob Chesley (Cascade) (2:55); pinned Austin Murphree (Philomath) (1:33); was pinned by Nat Brown (Elmira) (1:39); dec. Damion Schocker (SH) 9-3; placed fifth.

170 – Damion Schocker pinned Luis Infante-Marquez (Siuslaw) (1:21); decision over Nat Brown (Elmira) 4-2; lost 8-3 to Issiah Blackburn (Philomath); was pinned by Riley Jennings (Siuslaw) (3:52); lost 9-3 to Noah Moore (SH); placed sixth.

182 – Lance Hanson was pinned by Brooks Stearns (Philomath) (2:46); pinned Michel Mannot (Cascade) (0:27); was pinned by Johnny Sylva (Stayton) (0:56); pinned Kenyon Baldree (Elmira) (5:43); was pinned by Garret Sandefur (Stayton) (1:21); placed fourth.

182 – Nich James pinned Gael Ochoa (Cascade) (0:43); pinned Johnny Sylva (Stayton) (1:02); pinned Brooks Stearns (Philomath) (1:25); placed first.

195 – Nick Rice was pinned by Connor Kohn (Philomath) (3:23); pinned Jaden Pearce (Stayton) (0:32); was pinned by Mikey Montgomery (Elmira) (1:27); lost by fall to Connor Kohn (Philomath) (1:59); placed sixth.

195 – Austin Olin was pinned by Jimmy Acevedo (Newport) (1:25); pinned JC Gentry (Siuslaw) (1:23); pinned Connor Kohn (Philomath) (3:38); lost by fall to Mikey Montgomery (Elmira) (0:39); placed fourth.

220 – Kenny Storms pinned Angel Torres (Newport) (2:19); was pinned by Tyler Morris (Junction City) (0:17); was pinned by Matt Workman (Philomath) (2:58); placed eighth.

220 – Jake Fanning was pinned by Matthew Horrillo (Siuslaw) (3:21); dec. Clint Brownell (Stayton) 9-4; was pinned by Matthew Clark (Cascade) (5:11); lost 11-7 to Matt Workman (Philomath); placed sixth.

285 – David McMullen pinned Joseph Choi (Philomath) (5:01); dec. Caleb Hunter (Elmira) 5-4; won 3-1 sudden overtime dec. over Bryer Moore (Junction City); placed first.

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