Lexi Schilling signs on for Corban’s inaugural women’s wrestling program

Sean C. Morgan

Sweet Home senior wrestler Lexi Schilling on Thursday, Oct, 24, signed to wrestle for the first women’s wrestling team at Corban University in Salem.

“Today’s a very exciting day for us,” said Sweet Home wrestling Coach Steve Thorpe during a ceremony held in the commons at the high school.

“Any time they’re recruited because of the kind of person (they are) and their academic achievement, it’s very exciting.”

Thorpe said he was confident in Schilling’s future coach, Stryder Davis, who wrestled at Sprague High School in Salem and then was a national champion for NAIA powerhouse Montana State University Northern.

Davis, who was present for the signing ceremony in the high school library, called Sweet Home’s program “amazing,” adding that he wanted “to open the door for more Sweet Home guys and girls in the future. She’s perfect to build a program around.”

Corban started a men’s wrestling program this year.

“High school wrestling has been a very popular and growing sport in the Pacific Northwest,” said Athletic Director Twiggs Reed last year in making the announcement that the Warriors would be competing in the sport in this school year.

“Adding a wrestling program will be a part of our strategic plan to increase enrollment as well as to bring high-character, Christ-centered students to our campus.”

Schilling started wrestling as a freshman, Thorpe said. She came from a wrestling family, and “she didn’t want to watch wrestling happen. She wanted to be part of it.”

Her brothers, Colt and Tyler, both have wrestled at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Lexi Schilling helped launch the Sweet Home women’s program and finished second two years ago behind teammate Marissa Kurtz, now at Southern Oregon State University, and fourth at 105 pounds last season.

“She did what the Schilling family always does,” Thorpe said, describing her “100 percent” effort on the mat. “She does everything to make herself better.”

Like wrestling legendary Sweet Home Coach Norm Davis used to say, Thorpe said, “great athletes are a dime a dozen. Great athletes that are great people, now you’ve got something.”

Davis said Schilling “fits the mold of Corban perfectly. When you talk to other girl wrestlers, they respect her a ton. She wrestles aggressively. I coach that way.”

She fits into Corban, someone that people respect, Davis said. “It’s easy to build a program with someone like that.”

Schilling is the first Oregon wrestler he has recruited so far, Davis said. She will join a couple of Washington wrestlers on the team.

The program gets under way in 2020-21, he said, noting that women’s wrestling is “the fastest growing sport in the nation.”

Corban’s conference has seven programs now, Davis said, and the Oregon School Activities Association sanctioned girls wrestling last year for high schools, making the sport grow a lot.

“It just felt right when I went there,” Schilling said. “I knew it would be a good place whether I wrestle or not. It felt close to home.”

After watching one of the men’s practices, she learned the coaching was a lot like Sweet Home’s, she said. “I think it’s cool I’ll be part of something new.”

When people think of the new women’s program, they’ll think of her among those who started it, Schilling said. “And it’s nice to set an example to what future wrestling will be like.”

Schilling said she plans to study elementary education and become a third-grade teacher, she said. “They’re still (little), but you don’t have to parent them, tell them to wipe their noses and go to the bathroom.”

With a minor in Spanish, she would like to teach somewhere else and experience different cultures, she said, but she expects that she will probably teach in Sweet Home at some point.