The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

By Scott Swanson
Of The New Era 

Freshman Marissa Kurtz says winning title more than she expected


February 23, 2016

MARISSA KURTZ turns Dallas’ Angie Sledden for back points during their 106-pound final match.

Freshman Marissa Kurtz won Sweet Home’s second girls state wrestling title Saturday, Feb. 27, at the OSAA state wrestling championships.

Kurtz, wrestling at 106 pounds, pinned sophomore Zenaida Bresser of Henley Friday in a qualifying match, then beat Dallas senior Angie Sletten 7-5 in the final Saturday morning.

Much of the lead-up wrestling to the girls finals took place at the Oregon State High School Girls Qualifier at Cottage Grove on Feb. 6, beating Sletten 6-3 in that final.

With Saturday’s match tied 5-5 early in the third period, Sletten was called for stalling twice, giving Kurtz the victory.

“I don’t know what she expected, but she came out and got that first bar and pinned a double all-American from one of the state’s leading wrestling families,” Coach Steve Thorpe said of Friday’s match.

Kurtz, who started wrestling in the Sweet Home Mat Club as a sixth-grader and continued through junior high, said she didn’t anticipate being in the state finals when she started this season.

“I didn’t think I would be doing this well,” Kurtz said of her performance. “I improved a lot this year. Coach Thorpe.”

She said Sletten had “been cutting a lot of weight,” dropping from 120 pounds going into the match, and had lost twice to Kurtz earlier this season.

“She was more energetic today than she was last time,” Kurtz said.

When Sletten got her second caution for stalling, “I said, ‘I can’t let her do this,’” Kurtz said, noting that that was the turning point for her.

Kurtz and junior Gracie Olson, both of whom have brothers on the boys team, came out this year and, Thorpe said, they are the start of a “women’s team” at Sweet Home.

Olson also competed in the qualifier, placing second and losing a “tough” wrestle-back match, Thorpe said.

He said Kurtz’s dedication to the sport was key to her winning.

“I sent out a text to the team on a Sunday, to everybody, telling them that I was going to open up the gym at 1 p.m.

“She was there. And for 45 minutes we worked arm bars. And she did an arm bar on me again and again and again.

“She earned that.”

Kurtz’s title came six years after Mandi Binks won a championship for Sweet Home in 2010, but the girls sport has progressed significantly since then, particularly in the number of participants.

After hovering in 110-130 range in recent years, the number of Oregon girls certified to wrestle by the OSAA was 139. This year 278 girls underwent the required body mass index weight assessment required by OSAA of wrestlers, and 150 competed in the state qualifier on Feb. 6.

By comparison, about 1,300 girls wrestle in Washington, a nationwide leader in the sport, where girls wrestling has been sanctioned for more than a decade by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

Southern Oregon Sate University started a women’s wrestling program this year.

Thorpe said he plans to establish a formal girls team at Sweet Home next year.

THE OFFICIAL indicates Marissa Kurtz's victory in the girls 106-pound state final. Photo by Scott Swanson

“Women’s wrestling is not the women’s wrestling of old,” he said. “This isn’t girls wrestling boys. This is girls wrestling girls.

“It’s the development of women’s wrestling,” he said, with emphasis on “women’s.”

The Oregon Wrestling Association is pushing to add women’s wrestling as an OSAA-sanctioned sport. “It’s going to happen next year,” Thorpe said. “The numbers are there and it’s not like it used to be. I really support women wrestling women.

“I love wrestling because of what it does for young men and I love wrestling now because of what it does for young women too.”


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