Royer, Thorpe win repeat state wrestling championships as SH team just misses
March 4, 2020
By Scott Swanson
Of The New Era
It was oh-so-close, but Sweet Home's wrestlers fell just short of beating a stacked La Grande team in the state championships Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28-29.
But the Huskies came away with two state champions, Jackson Royer at 138 pounds and Travis Thorpe at 160 – both successfully defending titles they'd won last year – along with 11 other placewinners, including consolation champion Nich James at 182.
Sweet Home brought a record number of qualifiers to the tournament – 23. La Grande put seven wrestlers in the finals, including all five of the upper weights.
The Huskies led going into the finals Saturday evening, and its two winners added points to the their' total, but it wasn't quite enough as the Tigers got four finals wins to edge Sweet Home 261-254.5 in the final tally. Tillamook, the third-place finisher, was far back in the slipstream with 142.5 points and fourth-place Cascade had 101.
Placing fourth for Sweet Home were Jake Sieminski at 106, Kyle Watkins at 113, Rian Howard at 126, Christian Gregory at 132 and Jesse Jamison at 170. Treyson Smith placed fifth at 106 and Brayden Newport at 145. Sixth-place finishers were Tristan Spencer at 138, Kenny Storms at 220 and David McMullen at 285.
The single Husky girl to place in the increasingly competitive girls state competition was junior Jessy Hart, who took fourth at 125 pounds.
"Jessy stepped up," said Coach Steve Thorpe. "She is absolutely one of the hardest workers in the room. She got to stand on the podium. That's a very cool thing for her. She earned that medal."
Teammates Lexi Schilling, a 110-pound senior, and sophomore Paige Chafin, at 115, did not make the medal rounds.
"Paige didn't come in with her best tournament, but I know she'll do more wrestling this spring and close the gap," Thorpe said.
Schilling took a finger in the eye in, literally the first couple seconds of her semifinal against Tiana Gilliland of Grants Pass, and ended up getting pinned. Then she lost 13-1 to Analise Smith of Bend in the consolation semis, which put her out of medal contention.
"Lexi, more than anybody, probably didn't finish as well as she could have," Thorpe said, noting that Schilling's losses were to wrestlers she'd beaten in the regional qualifier for state. "But that doesn't take away from what she's accomplished. The state tournament is a crazy tournament. Things happen."
"And," he said of Schilling, who has signed to wrestle for Corban University next year, "this is not the last match she's going to wrestle.
"All three are beautiful girls. We're proud to make them the ones who represent our women's program at the state touranment.
"I'm proud of everybody," he said. "We had some incredible efforts. It's a very unforgiving tournament. Sometimes you get what you deserve. Sometimes you don't."
In the case of the two state champions, they did get what they deserved.
Both Travis Thorpe and Royer displayed total control as they clinically dispatched their opponents.
After pinning his way to the 138-pound final, Royer faced Jesse Jones of McLoughlin, who was undefeated. After a cautious first round, Royer stepped up the pace and finished with an 11-2 major decision.
Royer said he hadn't wrestled Jones since they were freshman, as Jones moved out of state before returning this year.
"I was really confident," Royer said. "It's always a little nerve-wracking going into a big finals match with somebody you don't know. He hasn't been to a lot of these big tournaments. He hasn't had a lot of these big experiences that a lot of our guys do. That definitely brings your nerves down a little. Also, being there the second time, that always helps."
Steve Thorpe said neither Royer nor his son Travis "had any doubt in his mind that they were going to win that match."
"Jackson knew exactly what he was going to do and he did it. He won the scrambles, he stayed in position to win and he got a major decision.
"I could see in the second round that Jack knew exactly where he was at. It's the schedule we wrestled. That kid had not had the opportunity to wrestle in those tournaments."
Royer said he was a lot more relaxed going into this year's final than last year's.
"I definitely think that was maturity."
Travis Thorpe said it felt "amazing" to win a second title, which moves him and Royer into an elite fraternity of nine Huskies who have won two state championships and nine four-time state placers. "It just feels amazing," he said.
The win brought relief for Thorpe, who's "had a target on my back all season," he said. "I feel like I've pushed in practice, out of practice, to do that, to win another title."
The fact that he's the coach's son adds "another level of pressure," his dad said.
"I told the team when he was a freshman that Travis would be treated differently," he said. "Sometimes he would be treated a little better because he was my son. But most of the time he would be treated worse, because he was my son. He would have to ride home with me every night."
In the 160-pound semifinal match against Elmira's Ayden Wolgamott Saturday, TravisThorpe injured his back as he adjusted his position against Wolgamott to get a major decision – and more points for the Huskies.
"I did get a little nervous when that happened," Steve Thorpe confessed.
Facing Tillamook senior Alex Werner in the final, Travis Thorpe said, his plan was simple: "to wrestle my own match." He did, finishing with an 11-1 major decision.
Steve Thorpe said he warned his son that Werner is an "dangerous" thrower, but Travis Thorpe responded that "I'm a better thrower" and made it clear he was set to win the match.
"I just felt completely free, I guess, going into it," Travis Thorpe said. "I knew I was going to destroy him. I wanted to break him and I felt like I really did that by just running up the score, putting my own stamp on it."
"It's crazy," Steve Thorpe said. "There wasn't a single throw in the match. He put his own stamp on it."
He noted that few have any idea of the level of commitment both wrestlers have put into the sport.
"Most people don't see the Sunday afternoon workouts, the early morning (weight)lifting. I have traveled thousands and thousands of miles with Travis and Jackson and Nich James and some others.
"I was reminded myself, in the springtime when Travis was getting ready to go to the national (wrestling) duals as a freshman, how Jackson would come in the morning to work out with him because Travis had baseball practice in the afternoon.
"Travis and Jackson, hands down, have probably put in more time doing the extra and traveling than anybody else on our team – not just in the last four years but since they were little boys. It was like being in a time warp (Saturday night), seeing those little boys now wrestling like men."
James, who was a state runner-up last year, lost 8-3 in the 182-pound semifinals to eventual state champion MaHonri Ruston of Baker.
"Nich has achieved so much," Thorpe said. "It just happened that it didn't work out that time for him. He responded by coming back and pinning the rest of his guys, which was bonus points for us. That's very typical. It shows his character and integrity, how he finished the tournament. He finished strong, as the leader he's been all year long."
The Huskies entered Day 2 of the tournament with 19 of their 23 qualifiers still alive, but the consolation semifinals in particular were deadly for Sweet Home, as 11 lost those matches, sending them to the fifth-place final and a resulting loss of points.
"We needed kids to wrestle better on the second day," Thorpe said. "That's on me for maybe not preparing them well enough. That's also on them. For some of them, they need to find out what it's going to take to get to an odd place. Some overachieved, some honestly underachieved. You ultimately get what you earn. Sometimes you get what you deserve; sometimes not."
Team veterans attributed the letdown to fatigue and youth.
"We had a lot losses we could have won, myself included," said McMullen. "I lost a few I should have won for sure. But I felt that was kind of a maturity thing. We had a lot of younger kids in the tournament this year. They need to grow in the sport more, be able to perform on these big stages. This is an all-or-nothing tournament. There's not another one after this."
"You have to be thinking about what you're supposed to be doing," said Royer. "They didn't do as well as we would have liked. That really sucks, but it happens. It's going to happen to everyone sooner or later. They just have to let that happen and put it in the rear view and go on."
Travis Thorpe said he's learned what it means to be a team in his four years with the Huskies.
"We push each other and if we're struggling, we help each other out. We're one of those kind of families. We push each other every day. It seemed like we didn't get it done all the way. We wanted to get a title.
"But we had a lot of the placers who won, who made it to state and people excelled beyond that. I'm proud of every single one of my teammates. I love our wrestling family."
Going through the state roster, Steve Thorpe said he was proud of the wrestlers and, particularly, of his coaching staff who assisted at state: Tim Boatwright, Brock Crocker, Tomas Rosa, Colton Schilling, Steve Schilling and Nathan Whitfield.
Thorpe and his staff were selected as 4A Division Co-Coach of the Year with La Grande's Kiel Carson. It was Thorpe's fifth time being selected for the honor.
"We had the most falls of any team in the tournament, any division, with 37. That's one of those things you need to have. All things considered, I'm very proud of what we accomplished this season, in this tournament."
Smith came through with a fourth place at 106 pounds "when we needed him," Thorpe said of the senior, for whom this was his second placing at state. "Treyson has worked and sacrificed and dedicated himself. He's a great example of what Norm Davis said: 'Great athletes are a dime a dozen, but if you find a great athlete who's also a great person, now you've got something.'"
Sieminski finished lower than he wanted, in fourth at 106, Thorpe said of the freshman.
"Ultimately, he's going to have to learn from this and Jake will. He will get better from it. I absolutely know that he is going to go right to work."
Watkins also won his second spot on the state podium, higher than last year with fourth place at 113.
"That's exciting for me as a coach, to have that," said Thorpe of the sophomore, who is in the middle of a "growth spurt" and who, the coach predicts, will likely wrestle at a heavier weight next year. "I also know he will do nothing but focus on getting better. I'm proud of what he did for us."
Howard, a senior who transferred to the Sweet Home program from Lebanon this year, also finished fourth after battling illness earlier in the week.
"That was a very tough weight," Thorpe said of the 120-pound division. "I wish he could have finished a little higher, but you don't always get to finish where you want."
Gregory, a sophomore, who wrestled "a little heavy" this year, had to beat freshman teammate Kaden Zajic in the "blood round" consolation quarterfinals before finishing fourth at 132.
"That weight class kind of stunk for us," Thorpe said. "We lost somebody. But that was Christian's first state place. He's had a great year. He's another who will do the extra. It won't take him long to get right back in the mix of things."
Spencer also became a two-time state placer with his sixth-place finish at 138.
"He's had a lot of adversity this year," Thorpe said of the junior, who bumped up three weight classes this year. "He's never been quite able to get into a consistent routine."
The coach also noted that Spencer's losses all came at the hands of wrestlers who placed higher, including the eventual runner-up.
Newport, a sophomore who finished fifth at 145 pounds, also put in a lot of work in Mat Club wrestling and extra workouts, and it paid off in an improved finish over last year, Thorpe said.
"He did better this year. I hope that will motivate him."
Jamison, another sophomore, also has put in a lot of extra effort, and finished fourth at 170.
"I don't think he'll be satisfied with getting a fourth place," Thorpe said. "I think this will only motivate him. I hope this springboards him."
Storms, a junior who finished sixth at 220, "got redemption" after a tough season in which he struggled with grades, Thorpe said.
"He pinned a guy (Clint Brownell of Stayton) who beat him at the regional tournament. Kenny came through. He did a lot of wrestling last summer but he didn't really focus on grades. He got the grades turned around. I'm very proud of him for coming back and getting a state place."
McMullen, a senior, finished his career with sixth place at 285 after a season that started very late, due to his recovery from knee surgery.
"He finished it out," Thorpe said. "It isn't the senior year he could have wanted. He came back not at 100 percent, but he's still a state placer."
He noted that the Huskies also had some "incredible efforts" from wrestlers who didn't make the podium, such as Zajic, who lost to the state champion and to his own teammate to make an early exit.
"(Senior) Iakona Howerton (at 195) gave everything he had every time he stepped out there," Thorpe said. "Connor Ford, although he didnt' place, I'm glad to see him getting out and being part of a trophy team.
"Gavin Walburg really stepped it up (at 145). He was one match away from placing and hopefully, he'll find that one match in what he does in the springtime.
"I'm proud of everybody. Everybody goes in there wanting to win. It's a very unforgiving tournament.
"I'm proud of those guys who said 'yes' and came out, the Isaac Schaffers, Tucker Weld, Ethan Spencer, Jake Fanning, Colbey Gazeley.
"We'll give them an opportunity to get better. It will be up to them to do what they're going to do with it."
OSAA Wrestling Championships 2020 Sweet Home Results
Team Scores: (1) La Grande 261; (2) Sweet Home 254.5; (3) Tillamook 142.5; (4) Cascade 101; (5) Baker/Powder Valley 97; (6) Woodburn 89; (7) Junction City 80.5; (8) Banks 76.5; (9) Estacada 64; (10) Hidden Valley 63.5; (11-tie) Mazama, Philomath/Alsea 60; (13) Siuslaw 49; (14) Elmira/Crow 44; (15) Gladstone 42.5; (16) Ontario 38.5; (17-tie) Cottage Grove, Seaside 34; (19-tie) Madras, Marshfield 32.5; (21) North Valley 30; (22) Stayton 29.5; (23) McLoughlin/Weston McEwen 28; (24) Klamath Union 23; (25) Henley 19; (26-tie) Newport, Phoenix 11; (28) Molalla 10.5; (29) Sisters 8; (30-tie) Corbett, North Marion 3; (32) Astoria 0.
106 - Treyson Smith - pinned Madison Shearer (Henley) 6-4 (Fall 2:36); lost 11-8 to Basen Rambo (North Valley); pinned Joshua Perdew (Tillamook) (0:24); pinned Froylan Santiago (Ontario) (2:42); lost 4-2 to Brysen Penaloza (La Grande); pinned Basen Rambo (North Valley) (1:40); placed fifth.
106 - Jake Sieminski - pinned Jaxon Mengis (Henley) (5:22); lost 10-4 to Brysen Penaloza (La Grande); pinned Blake Niemann (Philomath) (2:34); won by forfeit over Juan Velasquez (Woodburn); pinned Basen Rambo (North Valley) (1:56); lost 5-3 to Brysen Penzloza (La Grande); placed fourth.
113 - Kyle Watkins - pinned Ashton Marchington (Hidden Valley) (1:04); dec. Austin Simmons (Tillamook) 5-0; lost by fall to Joshua Collins (La Grande) (1:41); dec. Daniel Moore (Cascade) 6-0; lost by fall to Austin Simmons (Tillamook) (4:54); placed fourth.
120 - Connor Ford - pinned Treyce Horton (Mazama) (0:50); lost in OT to Hunter Lucas (Hidden Valley) 4-2; dec. Trey Conner (Corbett) 3-0; lost 4-2 to Landin Vittetoe (Estacada); did not place.
126 - Rian Howard won by tech fall over Ronaldo Hernandez (North Marion) (2:46,15-0); pinned Tanner Wood (Mazama) (0:42); lost by fall to Braden Carson (La Grande) (2:48); won by tech fall over Kyle Wulf (Ontario) (4:08, 15-0); lost 10-2 maj. dec. to Johnny Niehaus (Baker); placed fourth.
126 - Trenton Smith - lost by fall to Quintin Metcalfe (Tillamook) (2:12); dec. Colby Findley (Molalla) 7-6; lost by fall to Eli Howard (Stayton) (0:25); did not place.
132 - Christian Gregory - pinned Astin Bosch (Tillamook) (1:16); lost maj. dec. to Ruben Hernandez (Ontario) 11-0; pinned Wyatt Maffey (Sisters) (0:48); pinned Kaden Zajic (Sweet Home) (0:34); pinned Cole Wiles (Newport) (1:00); lost 7-0 to Cole Isaacson (La Grande); placed fourth.
132 - Kaden Zajic - pinned Wyatt Maffey (Sisters) (5:14); lost by fall to Freddy Hernandez (Woodburn) (2:23); pinned Yovanni Bazan (Phoenix) (1:36); lost by fall to Christian Gregory (Sweet Home) (0:34); did not place.
138 - Tristan Spencer - won by tech fall over Hector Paniagua (Woodburn) (6:00, 16-1); pinned Zayne Wilde (North Valley) (1:07); lost by fall to Jesse Jones (McLoughlin) (5:29); lost by fall to Elijah LaCosse (Siuslaw) (2:50); lost by fall to Zayne Wilde (North Valley) (:49); placed sixth.
138 - Jackson Royer - pinned Tyler Smith (Banks) (0:49); pinned Anthony Randolph (Sisters) (1:06); pinned Alex Kehr (La Grande) (1:40); won by fall over Tyler Smith (Banks) (Fall 0:49); pinned Alex Kehr (La Grande) (1:40); maj. dec. Jesse Jones (McLoughlin) 11-2. State champion.
145 - Gavin Walburg - pinned Owen Archy (Hidden Valley) (3:05); lost by tech fall to Peyton Forbes (Marshfield) (5:33, 18-3); lost by fall to Wyatt Livingston (La Grande) (3:45); did not place.
145 - Brayden Newport - maj. dec. Wyatt Livingston (La Grande) 13-2; dec. Cody Hovda (Estacada) (7-6); lost 8-2 to Peyton Forbes (Marshfield); lost 7-6 in OT to Blaise Pindell (Philomath); won 17-8 in OT over Wyatt Livingston (La Grande); placed fifth.
152 - Ethan Spencer - pinned Zeke Coon (Tillamook) (5:42); lost by fall to Noah Thompson (Cascade) (2:44); lost by fall to Tulson Higgins (Henley) (2:25); did not place.
160 - Travis Thorpe - pinned Gauge Bloomer (Baker) (0:35); maj. dec. Sam Garrison (Estacada) 16-4; dec. Ayden Wolgamott (Elmira) 9-3; maj. dec. Alex Werner (Tillamook) 11-1. State champion.
170 - Jesse Jamison - pinned Casey Cornford (La Grande) (2:40); pinned Ethan Richards (Mazama) (0:46); lost 8-2 to Parker Robinson (La Grande); dec. Chael Williams (Gladstone) 4-2; lost 8-5 to Reece White (Madras); placed fourth.
170 - Isaac Schaffer -lost by tech fall to Reece White (Madras) (4:12, 15-0); lost by fall to James Durand (Estacada) (1:37); did not place.
182 - Nich James - pinned Tobias Powers (Hidden Valley) (0:35); pinned Jaime Cruz (Woodburn) (0:41); lost 8-3 to MaHonri Rushton (Baker); pinned Cade Wynne (Mazama) (0:30); pinned Johnny Sylva (Stayton) (0:55); placed third.
182 - Tucker Weld - lost by fall to Lawson Talamantez (Seaside) (0:50); lost by fall to Julian Grinager (Hidden Valley) (4:36); did not place.
195 - Iakona Howerton - lost by tech fall to Christopher Woodworth (La Grande) (5:53, 18-3); pinned Matthew McCoy (Henley) (1:34); pinned Rafael Pereyda (McLoughlin) (0:53); lost 12-2 maj. dec. to Luke Nelson (Seaside); did not place.
220 - Kenny Storms - lost by fall to Joseph Baynard (Phoenix) (1:13); pinned Lincoln Clark (La Grande (2:32); pinned Clint Brownell (Stayton) (1:35); pinned Bryson Cook (Banks) (2:04); lost by fall to Joseph Carrion (Hidden Valley) (2:28) lost by fall to Nico Winsor (Estacada) (0:19); placed sixth.
220 - Jake Fanning - lost 3-2 to Dyontae Navarrete (Woodburn); lost 3-2 in OT to Dominic Hankins (Mazama); did not place.
285 - David McMullen - pinned DelosReyes (Klamath Union) (3:08); pinned Devin Gotchall (Estacada) (3:51); lost by fall to Gabe Shukle (La Grande) (1:22); lost by fall to Josh Heywood (Gladstone) (0:53); lost 11-6 to Devin Gotchall (Estacada); placed sixth.
285 - Colby Gazeley - lost by fall to Christopher Woods (Hidden Valley) (5:05); pinned Skylar Smith (Astoria) (2:03); lost 7-3 to Ramsey Hering (Banks); did not place.
110 - Lexi Schilling - pinned McKay Anderson (Baker) (1:42); lost by fall to Tiana Gilliland (Grants Pass) (3:57); lost 13-1 to Analise Smith (Bend); did not place.
115 - Paige Chafin - lost 16-3 maj. dec. to Haley Vann (Cleveland); lost by fall to Liberty Barklow (Elmira) (0:44); did not place.
125 - Jessy Hart - pinned Jaden South (Milwaukie) (2:27); lost by fall to Bella Amaro (Scappoose) (1:42); pinned Skyeler Bala (Sunset) (2:30); lost by fall to Sophie Keefer (Lincoln) (4:45); placed fourth.