The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

By Scott Swanson
Of The New Era 

Husky wrestlers loaded with experience, face stiff 4A-division competition


November 29, 2016

WRESTLING TEAM members are, in front from left, Joey Sell, Levi Ferebee, Isaac Schaffer, Justin Kurtz, Boe Baxter, Kobe Olson, Jake Evans, Zak Fox, Tyler Fincher, Bryce Porter and Connor Ford. In second row, from left, are Josh Rice, Katen Edwards, Dillon Stutzman, David McMullen, CJ Mitchell, Bryce Coulter, Robbie Yunke, Ricky Yunke, Noah Moore, Connor Russell, Lexi Schilling and Jake Porter. In the third row, from left, are Coach Brock Crocker, Coach Tomas Rosa, John Wood, Josh Koenig, Gracie Olson, Travis Thorpe, Robert Watkins, Jackson Royer, Marissa Kurtz, Oscar Hernandez, Levi Hernandez and Coach Steve Thorpe. In the rear, from left, are Coach Zack Gill, Austin Stevens, Kaden Petersen, Bryson Denver, Damion Schocker, Levi Baird, Nich James, Justin Miller, Devin Stafford, John Elder and Coach Tim Boatwright. Not pictured are Zack Ackerman, James Jewett, Austin Oakley, Micah Stewart and Lucas Victor.

Coming off a fourth-place finish in last year’s state tournament, the Huskies’ first trophy in three years, Sweet Home Wrestling Coach Steve Thorpe is looking forward to big things this season.

“We’ve got a lot of experience,” he said.

The Huskies start the season with 46 wrestlers, including three returning state place-winners – two boys and one girl – among 11 returnees with experience at state.

“We have a large group of seniors – 13. That’s a lot,” Thorpe said. “It’s always good to have that kind of age and with that age comes leadership, of course. I’m very excited about having a big group of seniors.”

He noted that the last time the Huskies had a large senior class was 2013, when they also won a state trophy – finishing third behind individual championships by seniors Colton Schilling, Tyler Cowger and Wade Paulus.

Leading the returnees on the boys side is senior Kobe Olson, who won the 120-pound state title last year. Sophomore Marissa Kurtz returns for the girls after winning the 106-pound title as a freshman.

Robert Watkins, who placed third at 106 pounds last year, is back as well.

Kurtz and senior Gracie Olson, who also returns, were the first girls in six years to compete for the Huskies, but this year there will be two more – freshmen Katen Edwards and Lexi Schilling. Neither has age group experience, but Schilling grew up in a wrestling family. Her father, Steve, is a longtime assistant with the Huskies and her brothers, Colton and Tyler, wrestle at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Though they will be missing graduates Tyrel Miller and Joe Rasmussen, both of whom placed at state last year, the boys return eight more state qualifiers: seniors Dillon Stutzman, Tyler Fincher and Jake Porter, who, Thorpe said, “came off a good spring of wrestling; juniors Justin Kurtz, Zak (Rivera) Fox and Ricky Yunke, who finished last year’s state tournament a match away from medaling; and sophomores Boe Baxter and Robbie Yunke, who was regional champion last year at 113 pounds.

“It’s good to have that experience,” Thorpe said. “We’re going to build off that some.”

Rounding out the team are: seniors Bryson Denver, Jonathan Elder, Levi Ferebee, Oscar Hernandez, Justin Miller, Kaden Peterson, Josh Rice and Devin Stafford; juniors Bryce Coulter, CJ Mitchell, Connor Russell and Joey Sells; sophomores Levi Baird, Levi Hernandez, Josh Koenig, Noah Moore, Austin Oakley, Damion Schocker, Austin Stevens and Micah Stewart; and freshmen Zack Ackerman, Jake Evans, Connor Ford, Nich James, James Jewett, David McMullen, Bryce Porter, Jackson Royer, Isaac Schaffer, Travis Thorpe, Lucas Victor and John Wood.

“The freshman class has a lot of numbers,” Thorpe said.

“Several of them have a lot of wrestling experience. They’ve wrestled a lot and traveled a lot. Every year we’re going to pull somebody new in.”

In addition to Schilling, veteran assistant Tom Boatwright has returned from retirement to help out, along with Tomas Rosa, Brock Crocker and Zack Gill.

Thorpe anticipates serious competition in the region from North Marion, which placed second to the Huskies at last year’s regional meet, and Cascade.

“The thing about Cascade, no matter what they have, you can never count them out,” he said. “A team that’s well-coached can have a down year and it can still be a good year. They are very, very well-coached. Jason Lovell does an incredible job with them.

“The 4A is tough,” he said. “It is so deep. There are so many good teams, a lot of schools our size.”

Marshfield is ranked No. 1 going into the season, with perennial powerhouses Crook County and Henley second and third. Sweet Home is fourth, with North Marion right behind.

“We’re cooking right now,” Thorpe said. “Everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to do. The Mat Club, the junior high team, led by Greg Newport, they’re doing well.

“It’s exciting for me, as the coach, to get to be part of it.”

The Huskies will open the season Dec. 6 with a four-way dual against Churchill, South Albany and Stayton.

Their schedule will include regular stops – the Rose City Championships Dec. 9-10, the Oregon Wrestling Classic Jan. 13-14, and the Reser’s Tournament of Champions Jan. 20-21.

But their four home dual meets will include some new twists.

On Mat Club Night on Jan. 11, for instance, all Mat Club members will be invited and will be honored. On Jan. 26, all former state place-winners for the Huskies will be honored.

“We’re wanting to show that the Sweet Home wrestling is an every-year thing. It’s generational,” Thorpe said.

“Go to one of our wrestling matches and you’ll see a dad-burn history lesson happening.”


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