Husky wrestlers heading to state with their sights set on a trophy

Scott Swanson

After a two-week break, Sweet Home’s wrestling team heads north Thursday for the tournament that really matters to the Huskies: the 4A state championships at Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25.

Sweet Home has 14 qualifiers, including three No. 1 seeds in returning state champion Kobe Olson, a senior, at 126 pounds; freshman Jackson Royer at 106 pounds; and senior Jake Porter at 145 pounds. Junior Bryce Coulter, the regional champion at 182 pounds, is seeded second in that bracket behind Mazama senior Josh Hammers.

Other qualifiers are sophomore Robert Watkins (113), freshman Bryce Porter (113), sophomore Robbie Yunke (120), freshman Travis Thorpe (126), senior Dillon Stutzman (132), junior Zak Fox (132), junior Ricky Yunke (138), junior Justin Kurtz (138), senior Oscar Hernandez (152) and freshman Nich James (160).

Olson said, following his regional championship, that his goal is to win another state title.

“I will go one match at a time and try to beat everyone who steps on the mat with me,” he said.

It’s also to win a team trophy, preferably first place. Team-wise, he said, he’d hoped for a few more qualifiers for the Huskies.

“I thought we had a lot better chance of winning this year as a team,” he said, noting that Sweet Home, which finished fourth last year, has “higher-ranked kids” while top finishers at other schools have graduated.

“We’ve been doing good as a team in duals and stuff. Now we just have to take what we have and work with this.”

Coach Steve Thorpe echoed that determination.

“We have to wrestle in this tournament,” he said. “This tournament has never been decided based on rankings, seeding, anything like that. It’s always decided after it’s wrestled.”

Coming off their regional wins, Porter and Coulter both said they feel confident.

“I have a really good chance of ending up in the finals,” Porter said. “That’s what I think. The last two times I’ve gone to state, I’ve kind of choked and went out before I should have, and lost to some guys I shouldn’t have lost to.

“I think I’ve gotten a little meaner. I have a mentality of like, ‘I need to win. It’s important to win and carry my team to the next level and keep going.’”

Coulter noted that Hammers is a returning champion, but “I’ve beaten everybody else.

“I feel like I need to get to the finals,” he said. “I fell like if I wrestle my best match, it’s hard for me to be beat. I just have to put it all together now.”

Along with the boys, Sweet Home sophomore Marissa Kurtz and senior Gracie Olson have qualified for the semifinals of the girls tournament and will face off Friday at 106 pounds in a four-girl bracket.

The winners of Friday’s matches will make the final on Saturday. Kurtz is the defending state champion at that weight.

“We have a goal to trophy,” Thorpe said. “We’re going to go there and wrestle. We’re not going to worry about the bracket and we’re not going to worry about the other team.

“We’ve put in the work. Now it’s time to cash in.”

Doors open to the public at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday, with finals at 6 p.m. Saturday. Individual session tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for students aged 5 through high school seniors, with multi-session discounts.

Sweet Home State Qualifiers and Seeds

106 pounds – Freshman Jackson Royer (33-9) is seeded No. 1 and will open against sophomore Brock Bresser (15-6) of Henley.

113 pounds – Sophomore Robert Watkins (35-13) is seeded No. 5 and will open against sophomore Luis Macias (26-11) of Tillamook.

113 pounds – Freshman Bryce Porter (12-8) is unseeded and will open against No. 7-seed Frankie Harlow (23-15), a sophomore from Marshfield.

120 pounds – Sophomore Robbie Yunke (23-5) is seeded No. 7 and will open against junior Kody Grossman (19-17) of Henley.

126 pounds – Senior Kobe Olson (44-4) is seeded No. 1 and will open against senior Lorenzo Mazzolari (10-5) of Tillamook.

126 pounds – Freshman Travis Thorpe (40-13) is seeded No. 6 and will open against junior Christian Garfield (26-13) of North Valley.

132 pounds – Senior Dillon Stutzman (23-10) is unseeded and will open against No. 7 seed Jorge Duran (17-10), a freshman from Baker/Powder Valley.

132 pounds – Junior Zak Fox (18-6) is unseeded and will open against No. 1 seed AJ Lira (31-5), a senior, of Marshfield.

138 pounds – Junior Ricky Yunke (35-14) is seeded No. 5 and will open against sophomore Dylan Dickson (22-12) of Tillamook.

138 pounds – Junior Justin Kurtz (19-14) is unseeded and will open against No. 7 seed Grayson Jensen (13-7) of La Grande, a sophomore.

145 pounds – Senior Jake Porter (42-6) is seeded No. 1 and will open against junior Ben Pruitt of Molalla.

152 pounds – Senior Oscar Hernandez (12-11) is unseeded and will open against No. 4 seed Nathan Reed (24-8) of La Grande, a freshman.

160 pounds – Freshman Nich James (24-17) is seeded No. 7 and will open against junior Braydon Wright (26-6) of Mazama.

182 pounds – Junior Bryce Coulter (40-10) is seeded No. 2 and will open against sophomore Jaxson Rhoden (22-14) of Crook County.