Riley Watkins Signs to South Western University

Photo by Sky Chappell – Rylie Watkins and Kaylene Zajic following Watkins signing for Southwestern Oregon Community College.

Riley Watkins was the most recent Husky to complete a college signing, signing for Southwestern Oregon Community College (SWOCC). Her signing marks the third signing this year for Sweet Home Wrestling, with two more to come.

“When I joined wrestling I did not plan on wrestling [at] the next level at all, unfortunately I didn’t enjoy wrestling [at first] because all I did was get beat up by my practice partners; Paige Chafin, Zoey Erivia and Bailey Chafin,” Watkins said.

Wrestling, however, was an all too familiar sport for Watkins. Her older brothers, Robert and Kyle both wrestled under the same program. According to head coach Steve Thorpe, the boys were very accomplished wrestlers.

“This year I put in the extra work and wanted it more than I ever had before,” Watkins said. “I started to find joy in the hard parts and I just love the feeling of winning. I wanted to continue.”

Photo by Sky Chappell – Robert Watkins and Riley Watkins with Kayla and Joseph Rosa.

Watkins had 32 career falls, was a regional champion pinning her way through, and placed second at the OSAA 4A/3A/2A/1A Special District 2 wrestling championship.

Thorpe had nothing but praises for his wrestler. “I’m very proud of her. She had different adversities and she exemplifies by example what it means to overcome adversity. I’ve always said, how you respond to adversity marks your character and she’s a young lady that is going to do great things in her life. I’m very excited for her.”

“These kids go through it all for me. These aren’t just some kids I coach on a team, these are kids that become mine. We go through a lot of battles together and when you have struggles together you build that family feel,” Thorpe said.

Watkins is excited to progress to the next level, along with her best friend Kaylene Zajic, who also signed to SWOCC earlier this year. Watkins surprised Zajic at this signing, who was unaware of the location in which Watkins would be attending.

“Southwestern stood out to me more than the other colleges that were looking at me because my best friend Kaylene was going to wrestle [at the] next level there,” Watkins said.

“I am beyond excited and less worried now that I get to experience my first years of adult life with the person I’ve been closest with since 7th grade,” Zajic said. “Not everyone gets to experience this but I’m so happy I get to.”

Watkins’ signing laminates the legacy of accomplishments the Sweet Home Wrestling program continues to produce.

Watkins plans to study business for the two years she plans to attend SWOCC. Following that, she wants to go into cosmetology and become a hairstylist, to help her get closer to her goal of opening her own hair business.