The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Justin Kurtz to wrestle for Umpqua


June 6, 2018

JUSTIN KURTZ, with his mother Lisa Kurtz and Coach Steve Thorpe, signs a letter of intent to wrestle at Umpqua Community College.

Justin Kurtz signed a letter of intent Tuesday, May 22, to wrestle for Umpqua Community College.

Kurtz, a senior, is the first wrestler this year to sign to compete after high school. He's the sixth Sweet Home athlete this year to sign with a college and the second last week, as golfer Haley May also signed. Signing earlier this week were volleyball player Ally Tow, track athlete Bethany Gingerich, football player Keegan Holly, and swimmers Lauren Yon and Mia Davis, who attends East Linn Christian Academy but swam for Sweet Home.

Kurtz is a two-time state place-winner in wrestling, Coach Steve Thorpe noted in introducing him before the signing ceremony in the Sweet Home High School Library. Thorpe recalled that he had to do a little career management at one point.

"In his eighth-grade year he decided after wrestling he was going to be a basketball player," Thorpe told the approximately 50 people assembled for the event. "I told him in his freshman year that 'We've got too many miles on the road together. You're not a basketball player. You're not any good at basketball. You're going to wrestle.'

"And he did. He's a two-time state placer. Not many people can say that."

Kurtz will be the second Husky alum on the RiverHawks wrestling team, which was started last year under former Sweet Home wrestler Kyle Temple, joining Kobe Olson who was part of Temple's inaugural team.

Kurtz said Temple, whom "I've known for a long time," approached him at this year's district meet and asked if he was interested in competing at the college level.

"I said 'yeah,' and he gave me his number," Kurtz said. "I called him and told him I was thinking about wrestling for him and he offered me a scholarship."

He said he plans to study to become an electrician.

Thorpe said Kurtz doesn't stand out in the crowd, necessarily, but often winds up on the medals stand.

"He's always been that guy who kind of hangs out in the back a little bit," Thorpe said. "He's unassuming and then where he ends up, you're like, 'Who's this guy who's still in the tournament on Day 2?'

"I'm proud that he's getting an opportunity to keep competing, but more so an opportunity at education.

"He wrestled in the springtime, went to extra tournaments. He did all those things. I'm excited for him.

"We've got a great avenue at UCC. I think Kyle Temple's doing a great job. We'll see what the future holds."


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