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Wrestling: Husky boys face 'deep' competition in quest for repeat title

One thing will be clear as Sweet Home's boys take the wrestling mat this season: the Huskies won't be sneaking up on anyone.

Not in the 4A Division, anyway, after they won their ninth state team title behind four individual championships

That was then. This is now, and despite the absence of two top finishers who won't be on the mat, the Huskies return defending state champions Jacob Sieminski, a junior, and Kyle Sieminski, a sophomore to lead the quest for another title.

"We came off a year when things weren't normal and we worked very hard to do what we did and accomplish what we accomplished," Head Coach Steve Thorpe said. "When others weren't able to maintain their programs, we were able to do it.

"Now we're back, trying to see if we can't repeat what we did before."

Gone to graduation is senior Tristan Spencer, who won the 152-pound title last year, following the death of his father.

"Tristan was on a mission," Thorpe said. "He was carrying the weight of his entire family, his father's legacy. So was his little brother, Ethan."

Sweet Home has 21 freshmen on its roster, with 11 seniors.

"I would say we're not an old team – we're young,"

Ethan Spencer, who finished third at 182 pounds last year, is back for his junior season, as are seniors Kyle Watkins, who was fifth at 125, Christian Gregory, fifth at 132, senior Trenton Smith, fifth at 138, and junior Kaden Zajic, fifth at 170.

Also back with state experience, though they did not place last spring, are sophomore Evan Ashcraft, senior Charlie Crawford, junior Brandon Elder, and senior Colby Gazeley, sophomore Ryker Hartsook, senior Tanner McMahon, junior Jayce Miller, sophomore David Steagall, and senior Tucker Weld.

Missing from the roster are senior Brayden Newport, who won a state title at 145 pounds, who has transferred to South Albany, and senior Jesse Jamison, who lost a 7-4 decision in the 160-pound final.

Jamison suffered a season-ending injury in football this year and is sidelined by surgery, Thorpe said.

"What Jesse Jamison is going to bring to us is his intensity and love of our sport and our program," he said. "He's going to be a coach and a leader, although he's not going to be on the mat."

It's pretty obvious that the Huskies are loaded.

"We are returning a lot of experience, but we also have brand new kids," Thorpe said. "It's very exciting for me as a coach.

Rounding out the roster for the Huskies are seniors Ezra Martin and Dakota Melkvik, juniors Daniel Goodwin and Evan Jensen, sophomores Evan Ashcraft, AJ Duncan, Chance Linn, Brad Marks and Alex Reed, and freshmen Jackson Barringer, Killan Boggs, Kayo Ebbs, Dominic Freeman, Talen Graber, Emilio Grajiola, Bode Hart, Preston Kegler, Jacob Landtroop, Brody Olsen, Laird Pettner, Dylan Sharp, Beau Snyder, Ashton Swanson and Nathan Thompson.

Around the 4A Division, which is "very deep," Thorpe said, La Grande, Tillamook, Banks and Estacada are all teams that he expects to be competing for trophies.

"There are a lot of very good teams out there, with depth. I don't even know if we are picked to win it."

Sweet Home is going to have to fill its gaps, particularly with the loss of Jamison.

"Losing Jamison to knee surgery is tough, Thorpe said. "We're going to have to have people fill the void of the people we lost. It's the same situation every year. You just wonder who is going to take advantage of that opportunity and we have several kids who might.

"As we go back to normal, this is going to be tough, to say the least. But we have kids who have done great things in the off-season. I'm excited for that."

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