Husky boys second in state wrestling behind three titlists
Sieminskis both notch third state championships while Spencer wins his first
March 1, 2023
Sweet Home's boys had a good day, literally, at the state wrestling tournament Friday, Feb. 24, taking home a second-place team trophy and finishing with three individual state champions.
The individual winners were junior Kyle Sieminski in the 113-pound division, his older brother Jake Sieminski, a senior, at 132, and senior Ethan Spencer at 182.
The wins were the third individual title for both of the Sieminski brothers, who equaled their dad, Clint Sieminski, who won his third title 24 years ago.
Jacob Sieminski, a senior, beat No. 2 seed Cash Wells, a senior out of Crook County, in the 138-pound final.
"Jake was named the Athlete of the Tournament," Thorpe said. "That's a big honor. He absolutely dominated the weight class."
Sieminski said, following the win, "It's cool being able to tie my dad's record and win it a third time with my brother. We're both at three now, so that was awesome."
He said it's been a goal of his for as long as he can remember.
"Ever since I found out what wrestling was and really knew what I was doing out on the mat instead of when I was three or four laying on my back smiling at my mom and dad," he recalled.
Looking back on the tournament, he said "I dominated a lot more than I thought I would. I definitely did not expect to pin my way through. The last two years I've kind of pinned and teched my way through, but didn't know many of the guys.
"This was the first year where I had two really good kids. I had Cash Wells (Crook County) and Tommy Belding (La Grande), both super tough. I've been wrestling Cash Wells for years, but I haven't seen him since last year, so it was cool to wrestle him here. He broke his ankle at the start of the year, so it was cool to see him back wrestling at full potential and seeing him in the finals at state."
This time around was different from Sieminski's last two titles, which he won in the Cascade High School gym. This time it was in the big Veterans Memorial Coliseum Arena.
"It's definitely weird because the last two state titles have been at Cascade," Sieminski said. "I haven't gotten to be back here since freshman year. So it's a big change."
But, of the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, he said "It's smaller than I remember."
What's the key to the Sieminski's success? "Me and my brother haven't missed anything," Jacob said. "Anytime there's extra, any chance we get. If we're sitting at home and there's no practice that day we're out going on a run or practicing down at the high school together. Even if it's just us, going to do those little extras. Putting all the extra work in finally pays off."
Sieminski found himself lost in the moment after winning. "It doesn't seem real, this being my last time getting to do this in high school," he said.
Thorpe also noted that Sieminski earns what he gets on the mat.
"He may be one of the hardest workers in (the wrestling) room."
Spencer, also a senior, also dominated the 182-pound division, winning his first two matches in falls in 27 and 24 seconds, then pinning Scappoose's Elijah Ritter in 1:01.
In the final Spencer pinned La Grande's Wyatt Livingston in 3:50 to win the title.
"Ethan was absolutely ready to compete when it was time to show up," Thorpe said. "He's grown so much from last year. He was focused and ready to get some work done. He walked away with a state title he absolutely earned."
Spencer said there were no surprises for him in the tournament.
He said the key to his success was "being really aggressive."
He noted that the journey this season to become a champion has been "a grind."
Kyle Sieminski, a junior, pinned his way to the final, where he defeated Alberto Flores of Crook County 6-3. The win avenged an 8-5 loss by Sieminski to Flores earlier this season.
"Kyle had a tough kid," Thorpe said, noting the outcome earlier this season. "He came off with a win in the finals to make it win No. 3. He's special, he's able to scramble, catch guys in difficult situations. He's made himself pretty darn good. People don't realize the extra time he puts in. It's not an accident."
Sieminski, like his brother, noted the change in venue.
"Last time it was in a high school. It's not nearly as big as the arena. It made me a little bit more nervous, but it's the same thing."
"I wrestled (Flores) earlier in the year and it was a close match," he noted. He wasn't surprised with the result, Sieminski said.
"I kind of expected it to go that way.
"I kind of controlled the whole match," he said, noting that he sealed the deal in his mind after his first takedown. "I kind of figured that I had it."
His take on winning three titles and matching his dad's medal count? "It's cool, but I definitely want to be able to brag that I got four."
He also credited his and his brother's success to hard work.
"It's definitely the amount of extra that we've put in. Anyone can go down and work out, but you're getting that edge when you work more than your opponent and more than everyone else in the room. Then you're obviously going to see that edge."
Clint Sieminski, who serves as an assistant coach for the Huskies, said seeing his boys equal his high school title total was "pretty special."
"I'm so proud of these guys and the work they put in. They earned every bit of it.
"You have the goal from the start, but you've got to win the first one before you win the next and so on. But it was definitely a goal they had from the start. They wanted to win all four. Of course it didn't happen for Jake, but he got three, the next best thing, and Kyle's at three now, so he's got one more to go."
Asked if he ever thought his sons would match his title count, he said, "You hope they will. You dream about it."
And the dream came true on Friday. "They sure got it done," Sieminski said. "It's a pretty good deal."
Sweet Home's other finalist was senior Kaden Zajic, who finished second at 170 pounds on the short end of a 9-2 decision to Scapoose's Trey Dieringer in the championship match.
"Kaden didn't do anything wrong in the match," Thorpe said of the senior, who was injured late in the season. "He still made it to the finals."
For the second straight year, the Huskies finished behind La Grande, with 253 points to the Tigers' 299.
Crook County was third with 230 points, followed by Scappoose (157), Tillamook (119) and Cascade (111). Philomath, the only other team from Sweet Home's region, was ninth with 67 points.
The big question on Thursday was whether there would be a tournament at all, after nearly a foot of snow fell on Portland Wednesday, nearly paralyzing the city. The Huskies spent three hours on a bus in traffic before getting to their hotel.
The tournament for divisions 4A through 1A was supposed to run most of the day on Thursday, with consolation and championship finals on Friday. But after cancelling Thursday's activities, OSAA officials decided to run the whole tournament for the smaller schools on Friday, from 9 a.m. to whenever it ended, with 5A and 6A competing on Saturday and Sunday.
Thorpe said he was proud of his teams – both boys and girls.
"They showed up. I'm very proud of how they showed up, how they responded to the adversity caused by the weather," he said. "We didn't even know if we were were going to have a tournament."
The Huskies responded all right, finishing with 11 placewinners and points from all 18 wrestlers who qualified for the tournament – a first for Thorpe in 27 years of coaching.
"On the boys side, every kid won two matches," he said. "I have never taken a groupu to the state tournament where every kid won matches, and on the boys side every kid won two. It was pretty incredible to have the kids do that."
Sweet Home's other placewinners were third-placers junior Jayce Miller at 113, and senior Trenton Smith at 145; sophomore Jacob Landtroop, fourth at 132; and fifth-place finishers freshman Tytus Hardee at 106, senior Daniel Goodwin at 145, junior Ryker Hartsook at 152, and junior David Steagall at 195.
"All those points, they add up," Thorpe noted, adding that all those third- and fifth-place finishes made a difference.
"I'm telling you, we're in situation there where it's still a race and we're still trying to get some things done. To have kids finishing on odd numbers, that's what I like to see."
La Grande's point total, though, was bolstered by 14 placewinners in 13 separate weights, including six finalists and three individual champions. The Tigers also had five third-place winners.
"La Grande had too much," he said. "They have a quality program and then we had two teams, Crook County and Scappoose, drop down into our division (from the 5A Division). That makes a tough top four."
But he emphasized that his boys were in it to the end, whether they placed or not.
At 106 pounds Hardee, a freshman, finished fifth, beating Philomath's River Sandstrom 7-2 after falling in the semifinals to Crook County's Chance Yancey.
"Tytus learned a lot in that tournament," Thorpe said. "It'll make him better next year, and to hopefully win a state title at some point."
At 113, Miller, a junior, was third, falling 12-5 to St. Helens' Carson Jackson in the quarterfinals, but winning his next four matches, including a 13-9 decision that turned the tables on Jackson in the consolation final.
"Jayce lost a tough quarterfinals match, and he had to come on a long road back in the back door," Thorpe said. "He got tougher as the tournament went on. He showed up."
On the other end of the 138-pound bracket from Sieminski, Jacob Landtroop finished fourth, falling to La Grande freshman Tommy Belding in 5:58 in the consolation final.
"Jacob moved up four weight classes this year," Thorpe said of the sophomore who won a state title as a freshman at 113 pounds. "He had a tournament. He upset a couple of kids he wasn't picked to beat. He was disappointed with fourth, but I was very proud of him. He scored a lot of points for us."
At 145 pounds, Smith placed third after losing a 5-4 decision to Crook County's Cutter Marsh in the semifinals. Smith scored a 5-3 decision over No. 1-seed Maverick Heimbuck of Scappoose to win the consolation bracket, after defeating teammate Daniel Goodwin in the consolation semis, 2-0. Goodwin went on to place fifth, winning by a fall over Cascade's Trenton Wymore in 4:46.
"You talk about two guys who had a great, great tournament," Thorpe said of the two seniors. "Trenton is a three-time state placer, and he finished on an odd. He lost by a point to miss the finals, and when that happens, the next best thing is to finish third. I'm pretty darn proud of him.
"It's neat when have two guys do the best they could have done in that tournament. Daniel comes back and pins Wymore, who beat him a regionals a week ago. That just speaks volumes. Daniel is a guy who doesn't miss – runs, workouts. I'm pretty excited to have two seniors like them."
The coach was also excited by the performances Hartsook at 152 pounds.
Hartsook, who badly injured an arm at the national tournament in Fargo, N.D., last summer, was forced to sit out a significant portion of this season, waiting for it to heal.
But not only qualifying for the tournament, he placed fifth after losing to Crook County's Gavin Sandoval in the semifinals. He then lost to Pendleton's Jack Lieuallen 8-5 in the consolation semis before beating Brady David of Madras 4-2 to take fifth.
"Two weeks before regionals Ryker was given the go-ahead to wrestle," Thorpe said. "Here's another guy that you want to talk about, a human how has heart. He's set a new standard for tough."
Hartsook's win over Brady was a little bit of revenge on behalf of his younger teammate, sophomore Ashton Swanson, who lost to Brady in the consolation quarterfinals.
Swanson, seeded third going into the tournament, had a tough day, opening with a win but losing to No. 5 seed Ridge Kehr of La Grande, and then falling in the consolation bracket, and failing to place.
"Ashton had some bad bracket luck," Thorpe said. "But I think it will pay off down the road, let him know what he can accomplish."
Steagall had a tough start in the 195-pound bracket, losing his opener to Nikolas Sigrah of Ontario, 7-6. He pinned his next three opponents, all in under two minutes, before falling 16-5 to Tyson Van Gastel in the consolation semis. Steagal then won by a medical forfeit over Sigrah in the fifth-place match.
"David took fifth place," Thorpe said of the junior. "Now he knows the expectation of what it takes to have success."
Thorpe also had good things to say about the Huskies who didn't place.
Freshman Dillan Davis, at 106 pounds, made it to the semifinals where he lost to eventual champion Bryce Haltiner, a junior from Tillamook and then was eliminated one match short of placing.
"Dillan scored points for us and has had an incredible season," Thorpe said. "He's going to get better."
Freshman Luke Rosa, at 138, lost his opener but won his next two before being eliminated.
"Luke lost a blood round match, but I don't think he will lose too many of those," Thorpe said. "He has completely grown as a wrestler. He's been in a man's division this year. Next year will be better."
At 170 pounds, senior Evan Jenson lost to eventual champion Dieringer in the second round and then was ousted by Philomath's David Griffith.
"Evan was 0-2 at state last year ,: Thorpe said. "He came out as freshman. I couldn't be more proud of him."
Both sophomores, Colton Bennett and Dylan Sharpe wrestled in the 220-pound division, but both fell just short of placing, both losing in the consolation quarterfinals.
"Colton wrestled his butt off but he didn't place," Thorpe said, noting that Bennett lost a "very controversial match" to be eliminated.
"He's already talking about where he's going to go wrestle this spring," Thorpe said of Bennett, who moved from Idaho last year. "He's an incredible addition to this program."
Sharpe, he noted, is is second-year wrestler.
"They were both one match away from placing."
The same was true of freshman Lynkin Royer, who lost his opener to No. 2 seed Matthew Evans of Astoria, a junior, but won his next two matches before being eliminated in a 4-3 loss to Tillamook's Kenneth Lopez.
Thorpe noted that Royer is "an undersized freshman" at heavyweight and still held his own.
"To see them show up way they did, I'm pretty proud," he said.
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