Huskies second in regional wrestling; qualify 13

Scott Swanson

After an 11-year run as district champions, Sweet Home’s wrestlers finally were edged out – by a mere four points, 382-378, Saturday night in the 4A Special District 4 regional tournament, placing second to Cascade.

It was the first time the Huskies lost a district tournament since 2000, when Cascade beat them and then went on to win the state tournament.

The Huskies qualified 13 wrestlers for the state tournament.

“I was happy with how we competed as a team,” Coach Steve Thorpe said, noting that his team has worked its way solidly to the elite level of 4A competition. “If, after the first tournament, we’d said Sweet Home is going to be doing this or doing that, I don’t think anybody would have expected us to be where we’re at.”

Thorpe was referring to how, in early December, his wrestlers finished fourth out of 15 teams at Cascade’s Perry Burlison Invitational, scoring 165 points to Cascade’s winning 217. That was after the Huskies lost 60 points from last year’s regional in wrestlers who didn’t return to this year’s team for various reasons.

“For the guys to respond the way they did, I’m very proud of them. Second to Cascade by four points, that ain’t nothing to shake a stick at. We’ve had a lot of success.”

Wade Paulus, who won one of the Huskies’ individual titles, said there were just too many missed opportunities to close the gap on the Cougars.

“As a team, we knew we could beat them, but we just had to step it up. We didn’t step it up enough. Some people lost matches they shouldn’t have. But it’s in the past. It’s behind us. We have to focus on state.”

Thorpe said he believes this is the best Cascade squad Coach Jason Lovell, a former Oregon State University wrestler, has ever had.

Both Sweet Home and Cascade finished with five individual titlists each, and the Cougars got eked out extra points by matching Sweet Home with depth as they slugged it out in the scoring columns, weight by weight.

Individual regional champions for the Huskies were Justin Nicholson at 106 pounds, Anthony Hardee at 112, Colton Schilling at 120, Ty Harvey at 132 and Paulus at 195. Runner-ups were Tyler Schilling at 106, Scottie Stockman at 120, Tyler Cowger at 138, Trever Olson at 152 and Zach Gill at 285. Also qualifying with third- or fourth-place finishes were Dylan Elder (126), Raul Hernandez (152) and Chance Jucutan (182).

Jucutan said he was shooting for second place, but lost to Zach Soto of Cascade, the eventual runner-up, which knocked him out of the championship bracket.

Hardee, a freshman who has been wrestling with the Sweet Home Mat Club since he was a little boy, made a move late in the season, Thorpe said.

“He picked some good workout partners and that made a difference for him. He picked it up, trained and worked very hard in practice.”

Cowger’s 3-1 loss to Stayton’s Shane Shepard in the 138-pound final didn’t help Sweet Home, but Thorpe said he wasn’t disappointed in his junior, who notched his 38th pin of the season in the tournament semifinals.

“I was disappointed for him but definitely not in him,” Thorpe said. “You’re going to lose sometime. The only thing that stinks about it is when and where. It doesn’t taken away from anything Tyler has done this year. Thirty-eight falls in a season – that is amazing.”

Olson, who has battled injuries this season, learned earlier in the week that he was being moved up to 152 pounds, but it paid off in a second-place finish to Philomath’s Mikael Hill by a 5-4 score.

“He wrestled guys guys he’d never wrestled,” Thorpe said. “He made it to the finals and it was close one.”

A junior who didn’t qualify for a trip to state last year but responded by working hard all spring and going to the USA Juniors National Tournament freestyle tournament, Olson said his best match in this tournament was his 5-3 win over Cascade’s Chance Beggs.

“I’m not cutting at all, so he was bigger than me,” said Olson. “I had confidence. I always step on the mat knowing I’m going to win.”

Gill lost 3-0 to Elmira’s Kyle Smith, “the best heavyweight in the state,” keeping the match scoreless until the third period, when Smith scored on an escape from the referee’s position and then took Gill down.

“I think that might have been the first time this year that Kyle Smith hasn’t pinned an opponent,” Thorpe said.

He said Nicholson and Tyler Schilling both wrestled “great,” facing off for the 106-pound title. Schilling, in particular, had to beat two wrestlers – Philomath’s Jimmy Baertlein and Cascade’s Logan Humphrey, who had defeated him, badly, earlier in the season, to make the final.

“Not very many get to the district final as a freshman,” Thorpe said. “Not many can say that.”

Also qualifying were Raul Hernandez, and Dylan Elder, who, like Hardee, spent most of his season on the junior varsity, but pulled out all the stops when his big chance came.

“Dylan Elder just decided to play rough and it paid off for him,” Thorpe said.

Hernandez, a senior who is physically much shorter and smaller than many of his opponents, said he didn’t necessarily expect to qualify for state, but after getting pinned by Cascade’s Cody Kath, in their second match on Friday, he found himself on Saturday in the consolation semifinals against Clay Wallen of Stayton and that’s when he saw the door open.

“I got him the kid from Stayton on his back and I got my hopes up and I just squeezed,” he said of the pin he scored to get him into a rematch with Wallen in the final, which he lost 1-0, but he was in.

“I’m very proud of Raul,” Thorpe said. “ He is a testimony to perseverance and dedication.”

Raul Hernandez resists attempts by Cascade’s Kody Kath to break him down.

Plus, there was the rest of the scorers. Nene Mauer (112), Nate Melcher (160) and Alex Armstrong (170) placed fifth, while Ryan Adams (132) and Bobby Malloy (170) placed sixth.

“We had three guys place fifth and I’d love for them to qualify but it doesn’t take anything away from what they did this year,” Thorpe said.

Melcher, a junior, said said his tournament “didn’t go as well as I wanted it to” after losing to eventual champion Josh Stanley of Cottage Grove., but after losing again in the consolation semis, he pinned Eric Sinclair of Philomath.

“I knew I wasn’t going to get to state, but I tried to help the team with points,” he said. “Also, if the guy above me gets injured or something, I can move up.”

Thorpe said he appreciated the help his team got from “wrestling moms and wrestling dads” to put on the two-day regional tournament.

“It’s always kind of a headache to host a tournament of this size but it sure is nice when it goes well,” he said.

The state meet starts at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Doors will open for finals at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, with finals at 6:30. Tickets for the entire tournament are $35 for adults and $25 for students. Tickets for individual days and the finals are $10 each for adults, $8 for students.

Thorpe said the focus now is to fine tune.

“Right now the main thing is to try to get everybody healthy and keep them healthy, and keep their weight where it needs to be,”he said. “We want to wrestle a good state tournament and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Paulus said his plan is to win at state after placing third last year. He goes in as Sweet Home’s only top seed. Colton Schilling is the only other seeded wrestler, at second.

“I learned I have to show up,” he said. “I can’t go in scared. This year that what I did. It’s like football. I will have to go in thinking ‘I’ve got to do this.’ I can’t have any other mindset.”

4A Special District 4

Regional Tournament


Team Scores – (1) Cascade 382; (2) Sweet Home 378; (3) Philomath 196; (4) Elmira 153; (5) Stayton 150; (6) Cottage Grove 143; (7) Newport 131.5; (8) Central 65; (9) Junction City 54.5; (10) Taft 22.

Place-Winning Matches*

and other Sweet Home results

106 – Justin Nicholson (SH) dec. Tyler Schilling (SH) 8-4 for first place; Josh Connor (Newport) won by forfeit over Makia Chadwick (Newport) for third place; Logan Humphrey (Cascade) pined Derek Stucki (Philomath) 12:50 for fifth place.

112 – Anthony Hardee (SH) dec. Jared Reisterer (Cascade) 9-6 for first place; Michael Croker (Cascade) maj. dec. Jace Bearden (Elmira) 14-0 for third place; Nene Mauer (SH) pinned Sam Armstrong (Central) 1:29 for fifth place.

120 – Colton Schilling (SH) pinned Scottie Stockman (SH) 1:09 for first place; Austin Coblentz (Stayton) pinned James Bittner (Newport) 2:32 for third place; Noe Villalobos (CG) pined Caleb Deno (Cascade) 1:06 for fifth place.

126 – Travis Bledsoe (Cascade) dec. Spencer Crawford (Cascade) 9-0 for first place; Dylan Elder (SH) dec. Darin French (Elmira) 9-5 for third place; Nick Wisely (CG) won by forfeit for fifth place. Ty Kirkland (SH) did not place.

132 – Ty Harvey (SH) dec. Marcus Andrews (Cascade) 8-6 for first place; Riley Beggs (Cascade) won by forfeit over Zach Leonard (Philomath) for third place; Dalen Hargett (Newport) dec. Ryan Adams (SH) 10-9 for fifth place.

138 – Shane Sheppard (Stayton) dec. Tyler Cowger (SH) 3-1 for first place; Jacob Dalke (Cascade) pinned Seth Steere (Taft) 3:59 for third place; Jacob Sanger (CG) pinned Bryndyn Gardner (Central) 2:36 for fifth place. JT Weld (SH) did not place.

145 – Ryan Dozler (Cascade) dec. Colton Kohlmeyer (Cascade) 6-3 for first place; Zach Trask (Philomath) pined Tanner Swinehart (Central) 1:09 for third place; Dylan Krieger (Stayton) pinned Bobby Malloy (SH) 5:59 for fifth place. Ian Search (SH) did not place.

152 – Mikael Hill (Philomath) dec. Trever Olson (SH) 5-4 for first place; Cody Kath (Cascade) dec. Raul Hernandez (SH) 1-0 for third place; Clay Wallen (Stayton) won on disqualification for fifth place.

160 – Josh Stanley (CG) dec. Braydon Calder (Philomath) 3-1 (OT) for first place; Codi Branch (Stayton) dec. Bryan Zimmerman (Elmira) 15-7 for third place; Nate Melcher (SH) pinned Eric Sinclair (Philomath) 3:03 for fifth place. Nick Hall (SH) did not place.

170 – Tyler Howe (Cascade) dec. Ben Goodman (JC) 10-4 for first place; Zach Brown (Newport) won by forfeit for third place; Alex Armstrong (SH) maj. dec. Riley Watkins (Philomath) 17-4 for fifth place. Ben Terry (SH) did not place.

182 – Cody Crawford (Cascade) pinned Zach Soto (Cascade) 1:34 for first place; Chance Jucutan (SH) dec. Ted Vaughn (Philomath) 9-7 for third place; Chris Engholm (Elmira) maj. dec. Noah Stepp (Central) 15-2 for fifth place. Quinn Wise (SH) did not place.

195 – Wade Paulus (SH) dec. Mitch Kuenzi (Stayton) 4-1 for first place; Ty Hart (Stayton) pinned Brandon Lewis (Philomath) 4:42 for third place; Bret Morris (JC) pinned Collyn Lawson (Central) 1:52 for fifth place. David Skeen (SH) did not place.

220 – Dustin Johnson (Cascade) dec. Andrew Piper (Elmira) 3-1 for first place; Tyler Lehman (CG) pinned Cody Small (Cascade) 1:39 for third place; Jake Robinson (Newport) pinned Marcus Bailey (CG) 2:19 for fifth place. Troy Hazelton (SH) did not place.

285 – Kyle Smith (Elmira) dec. Zach Gill (SH) 3-0 for first place; Dylan Helland (Elmira) pinned Caylan Stark (Cascade) 1:15 for fifth place; Lucas Sinclair (Philomath) pinned Brett Cox (CG) 1:26 for fifth place.

*Top four place-winners qualify for state

4A State Tournament

Sweet Home Opening Matches

106 – Justin Nicholson (second seed) vs. Cole Rohan (LaGrande); Tyler Schilling (SH) vs. Johnny Avina (Crook County).

113 – Anthony Hardee (SH) vs. Michael McKinney (Sutherlin).

120 – Colton Schilling (second seed) vs. Levi Graber (North Bend); Scottie Stockman (SH) vs. Augustin Munoz (Hidden Valley).

126 – Dylan Elder (SH) vs. Rider Shinkle (Crook County).

132 – Ty Harvey (SH) (fourth seed) vs. Jackson Conrad (North Bend).

138 – Tyler Cowger (SH) vs. Spencer Bradford (Estacada).

152 – Trever Olson (SH) vs. Aaron Boatright (Mazama); Raul Hernandez (SH) vs. Seth Sotelo (Hidden Valley) (third seed).

182 – Chance Jucutan (SH) vs. Taylor Hodgen (McGloughlin).

195 – Wade Paulus (SH) (top seed) vs. Juan Lopez (Ontario).

285 – Zach Gill (SH) vs. Josh Cox (Mazama).