Marissa Kurtz becomes first SH girl to sign to wrestle in college

Scott Swanson

Marissa Kurtz has made history already at Sweet Home High School, winning three championships in girls wrestling and serving as one of the primary groundbreakers in the establishment of the sport as an OSAA-sanctioned activity.

Tuesday, April 16, she did it again, becoming the first girl from Sweet Home High School to move on to college wrestling when she signed a letter of intent to compete for Southern Oregon University.

“When you do something for the first time, you do something that no one else has ever done, it’s called ‘groundbreaking,’ Coach Steve Thorpe told the crowd gathered for the signing ceremony in the library at the high school.

“She’s not the first woman wrestler we’ve had in Sweet Home and she’s not going to be the last one we’ve ever had. But she’s the first female wrestler to sign to wrestle on a scholarship at a college.”

Kurtz said she chose SOU because of its reputation as a wrestling school and because she wants to go into teaching, which is a field the university is strong in.

“It has a really good program,” she said. “They have a really good teaching program at the school. So it’s kind of all there.”

Thorpe noted that Kurtz joins a “long list” of Sweet Home wrestlers who have gone on to SOU, including current Husky assistant coach Tomas Rosa. Another recent SHHS alum, Tyler Cowger, was a four-time NAIA All-American for the Raiders and is now an assistant coach for the team.

Kurtz said she didn’t seriously consider college wrestling an option until last year, when “Thorpe asked me where I wanted to go.”

Kurtz said she was recruited by Paul Rademacher, associate head coach for the women’s wrestling team until he was named women’s head coach at Indiana Tech University earlier this month. In two years under Rademacher, the Raiders went 14-14 and finished eighth at the first-ever NAIA National Invitational this past March.

“Honestly, it was a job well done by Paul Rademacher for recruiting,” she said.

Thorpe said Kurtz’s success “is not an accident.” She wrestled during the off-season and showed up in October to work out, all while playing volleyball and softball and maintaining a high GPA.

“I’ve used it many times, what (his predecessor) Norm Davis said: ‘Great athletes are a dime a dozen; great athletes who are great people, now you’ve got something.’ And we’ve got something with Marissa. “I’m just very proud of her. She’s a trendsetter, a groundbreaker.

“The challenge to her is do something when she’s there. Number one is to get an education and to use wrestling as an outlet to get there. It’s a great school for what she wants to study, to be a teacher.”

He said he hopes Kurtz will return to Sweet Home to teach and coach.

“By that time you don’t know what women’s wrestling will look like here at Sweet Home,” Thorpe said. “If it continues to grow as other things have, I think we’re in good shape.

“I’m more proud of the person she is than anything.”