The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

By Scott Swanson
Of The New Era 

Camp brings some of state’s top wrestlers to Sweet Home


July 11, 2017

STEVE THORPE, camp director, talks to wrestlers before a workout at the Santiam Wrestling Camp Monday morning.

Colin Hoeft appeared to be enjoying himself immensely Monday morning as he instructed a gym full of some of the state’s best wrestlers in the fine points of bumping one another.

It was another session of the Santiam Wrestling Camp at Sweet Home High School, which started Saturday, July 8, and ran through noon Tuesday, and Hoeft, the coach of a 15-member Canadian team participating in the camp, was taking it seriously.

“You’re not positioned right,” he told one wrestler, who was grinding shoulders with his workout partner on the floor of the Main Gym. “You’ll let him get inside you.”

In the Activities Gym a group of younger wrestlers, including many from Sweet Home Mat Club, was being drilled by Mike Simonson of Thurston with some help from Sweet Home’s Ricky Yunke.

In the wrestling room Neil Russo of Newberg, another of the state’s top coaches, was coaching wrestlers how to lift and opponent to get in scoring position.

“The camp is going great and we’ve got some of Oregon’s top coaches,” said Coach Steve Thorpe of Sweet Home, who has directed it since 2001.

The campers included Oregon’s Cadet and Junior national teams, who are headed to Fargo, N.D. for the nationals July 14-22. Sophomores-to-be Travis Thorpe and Nich James will be on Oregon’s Cadet team. Also, though they weren’t at the camp, Katen Edwards, Lexi Schilling and Marissa Kurtz will compete in a women’s freestyle tournament at Fargo.

Also in camp were members of Oregon’s cultural exchange team, which will go to Russia later this month, and includes Sweet Home’s Bryce Coulter.

“With the Cadet national team, the Junior national team, the cultural exchange team, the Canadian group and then our campers, it’s an incredible camp with a variety of abilities,” Steve Thorpe said.

“In this group of campers, one of the kids is a two-time national triple-crowner, and we have multiple high school placers alongside of some middle school kids.

“I just brought in some of the best people in the state of Oregon to come in and wrestle Sweet Home kids. I mean, if you’re a Sweet Home wrestlers and you don’t come to this camp, it’s almost foolish.”

About two dozen of the 150 campers were from Sweet Home, he said. Other large contingents came from Thurston and Pleasant Hill.

Campers have numbered over 200 in recent years, but Thorpe said the ideal size is about 150 wrestlers, so he capped admissions this year.

In addition to eating in the school cafeteria and sleeping in the gyms, campers also participate in a variety of competitions dreamed up by former Sweet Home assistant Steve Hummer, now a coach at South Albany, Thorpe noted.

“We have this thing running in a way that works,” he said. “Sweet Home loves its wrestlers. It’s would be hard not to do this in Sweet Home.”

The Canadian teams, led in recent years by Hoeft, have been regular attendees since 2001, Thorpe said.

BRYCE COULTER, right, prepares for a trip to Russia later this month with a workout against Tyson Stover of the Tri-Cities area in Washington, whose father Shannon Stover is a former Sweet Home wrestler.

“They work hard and do a good job,” he said. “Colin’s a good coach. He’s very involved in wrestling in Canada.

Hoeft said most of his team are from Saskatoon and Prince Albert in Saskatchewan.

“We love coming down here,” he said. “It’s one of those things you get pretty comfortable and you know what to expect.

“We’ve traveled a lot of places before and you never know what you’re stepping into. We come down here and they treat us well and we know our kids are going to find tough competition and get what they need out of this camp.”


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