Husky boys qualify 18 for state wrestling in winning regional title

Benny Westcott and Scott Swanson

By Scott Swanson

and Benny Westcott

Of The New Era

Sweet Home’s boys won their ninth straight regional wrestling title Saturday at Cascade High School, qualifying 18 wrestlers for the state tournament this weekend in Portland.

The Huskies won the 4A Special District 2 championship with seven individual champions, and 13 finalists.

Sweet Home finished with 448.5 points, ahead of Cascade (353), Philomath (275), Stayton (141) and North Marion (101.5), Junction City (91), Cottage Grove (84.5) and Newport (82).

District champs were freshman Tytus Hardee at 106 pounds, junior Kyle Sieminski at 113, senior Jake Sieminski at 132; sophomore Ashton Swanson at 152; senior Kaden Zajic at 170, senior Ethan Spencer at 182; and sophomore Colton Bennett at 220.

Coach Steve Thorpe said he was happy with his team’s performance and optimistic about the possibilities.

“We had some kids wrestle a great tournament,” he said.

“We’re taking 18 kids to the state tournament. This is one of a very few times that we’re not taking someone who can’t score for us. Everyone we’re taking can score points in that tournament. Our region is tough; it’s full of a whole bunch of good individuals on these teams.”

Hardee said he got more of a battle than he was counting on in his final against Philomath’s River Sandstrom, who took Hardee to 4:57 before getting pinned.

“He did a lot better than I expected,” Hardee said. “He really went out there and competed.”

He’s already setting his sights on a bigger prize.

“I’ve got to think about what’s next – state coming up. Gotta win that too.”

Hardee credited his practice partners Jayce Miller and Kyle Sieminski.

“They’re on the podium too,” he noted.

Thorpe said Hardee ‘s regional title as a freshman was a “big thing” and that Kyle Sieminski “dominated his bracket.”

Jake Sieminski, Thorpe said, “is wrestling at another level right now.”

Thorpe noted that he made the decision to forfeit rather than risk injury at this point in the season with his wrestlers facing each other in the finals.

“It’s best for our team and I think that’s what a lot of these wrestlers are all about.”

Bennett moved to Sweet Home from Idaho before the school year.

“Being my first year here in Oregon and everything, it’s pretty amazing, honestly,” he said. 

Analyzing his final match, he said, “I was expecting it to go maybe a little bit better, but I’ve been a bit under the weather recently. But I won, and that’s the bottom line of it.”

He credited “having a good partner and the coaching staff that really pushes me toward what I want,” singling out Dylan Sharp and Lynkin Royer as his workout partners.

“This will be my second time going into the state tournament, once in Idaho and once in Oregon. There will be a lot of different faces, and I’m ready to go kick some butt,” Bennett said.

Spencer, one of the most experienced among this year’s qualifiers, had little trouble winning his bracket, pinning all three of his opponents in less than a minute. He was named the tournament’s outstanding upper-weights wrestler, Thorpe noted.

“I had wrestled the kid like three weeks before, and I pretty much did the exact same thing,” Spencer said of his finals opponent, Cascade’s Tucker Melton.

He said his teammates were key to him winning a district championship. And after the “really long grind” of the season, he said that he is feeling hopeful going into the state tournament, with the goal of becoming a state champion.

Miller, a junior, was second at 113 after injury-defaulting the final to Kyle Sieminski, but not after beating Philomath’s Benjamin Hernandez, a state champion in 2021, and Cascade’s Payton Burlingame, who placed third last year at 120.

Sophomore Jacob Landtroop was second at 132 after injury-defaulting to Jake Sieminski. But, Thorpe noted, Landtroop got to the finals by beating two wrestlers, Cottage Grove’s Carter Bengston and Philomath’s Chase Ringwald, who had beaten him earlier this year.

Senior Trenton Smith was second at 145 after a 3-2 loss in the final to Trenton Wymore of Cascade.

Junior Ryker Hartsook was second at 152 after injury-defaulting in the final to Swanson.

Senior Evan Jenson was second at 170 after injury-defaulting in the final to Kaden Zajic.

Junior David Steagall was second at 195, losing 9-0 in the final to Blake Perlichek of Cascade.

Third-place finishers were freshman Dillan Davis at 106; freshman Luke Rosa at 138; senior Daniel Goodwin at 145; and sophomore Sharp at 220.

Royer, a freshman, was fourth at 285, rounding out the state qualifiers.

“Our heavier-weights group of big guys all wrestle with each other,” Thorpe said, noting that they are all young. “Everybody did good job. They’ll all be back next year.”

Freshman James Hearick just missed qualifying, finishing fifth at 126.

Finishing sixth were freshman Jeremiah Gill at 120 and sophomore Killan Boggs at 126.

Eighth-place finishers were freshman Bridger Royer at 120; freshman Jeremiah Steagall at 160; and sophomore Ricky Erickson at 182.

Sweet Home will send the 18 boys and five girls, who qualified two weeks ago for the girls championship tournament, to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum this Thursday and Friday, Feb. 23 and 24.

Thursday’s preliminary rounds run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for both boys and girls. Third- and fifth-place matches and championship finals for both boys and girls will run from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.

“We have some good seeds,” Thorpe said. “I tell the kids It’s a state tournament. There’s no such thing as bad wrestlers in this tournament, whether they’re a seeded wrestler or not.

“You just wrestle the bracket. You wrestle your first match and you don’t worry about the next one.

“Our goal is to bring home hardware, both boys and girls.”

See more photos in our online gallery.