Wrestlers win state championship

Matt Grove didn’t know it but he was about to win the biggest match of his career for the Huskies Saturday afternoon at the state 4A wrestling championships at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum.

Grove, competing at 112 pounds, had battled his way through the consolation bracket after losing in the quarterfinals to Ryan Bullock of McLoughlin, the second-ranked wrestler in the state.

Though Grove didn’t know it, teammate Marc Callagan had just placed fifth at 215 pounds, a win that put the Huskies mathematically into the lead for the team championship.

Now, in the consolation final, Grove was facing Bullock once again.

Trailing early, he displayed the determined grit that has been his trademark for much of the season. He fought his way back to even the score and then, in the third period, caught Bullock in a cradle for more points as the clock ticked down. He won 7-3, took third, and locked down Sweet Home’s second team state championship in three years.

“I’m speechless,” said Coach Steve Thorpe, who is normally not at a loss for words. “I’m absolutely in awe of what these wrestlers did.”

The Huskies displayed true grit after two of their favored wrestlers, number-two seeds sophomore Kris Newport at 125 pounds and junior Brock Crocker at 140, were upset in their first-round matches on Thursday, the first day of the tournament. Newport fought his way through three matches in the consolation bracket, then missed out on a medal when he lost to sixth-seeded David Converse of Newport, whom he had defeated three times earlier in the season, the last in the district final the week before.

Sweet Home’s other second seed, Taylor Tagle at 130 pounds, stayed alive through the winners bracket and was the only Husky to make it to the championship final, losing 12-5 to top-seeded Drew Erickson of Pleasant Hill to take second.

The Huskies pulled together and made it happen despite those setbacks.

Sweet Home began the three-day tournament with 17 qualifiers, of whom all but two scored points, and had eight wrestlers reach the medals stand: Taylor second at 130 pounds, Matt Grove third at 112; Brock Crocker third at 140; Mitch Grove fourth at 119; Callagan fifth at 215; Jack Perry sixth at 145; Anthony Albright sixth at 189; and Tyler Holly eighth at 112.

The Huskies finished with 142 team points, with McLoughlin second (122.5), followed by La Grande (121.5), Illinois Valley (118.5) Tillamook (118), Henley and Scappoose (116).

“We didn’t win this with just eight placers,” Thorpe said, noting that 10 wrestlers won bouts in the consolation bracket.

“(Assistant Coach Steve Hummer) got the team together a couple of days before the tournament and told them that crazy things happen at this tournament and that’s why, no matter what happens, they need to stick together as a team. They did and that’s why I’m in awe of them.”

The team title was the fourth for the Huskies in Thorpe’s 12 years as head coach.

But it didn’t look too sure Friday night, as Sweet Home trailed Henley 106-103 after the Hornets put three wrestlers in the championship finals and had three others in the consolation bracket.

Things changed Saturday morning after the Grove twins got things rolling with pins in their first matches along with a win from Holly.

“I started thinking we might win today after we got on a roll there early in the consolation finals,” Thorpe said.

Though the team championship was already guaranteed by the time Tagle wrestled, he was still disappointed with his loss to an obviously stronger, quicker Erickson.

“I knew I had to stay in the match. He was pretty strong and big,” said Tagle, adding that the experience he got in the final should help him next year.

Thorpe noted that Tagle wrestled the latter part of the season with a bad knee, but was an “incredibly” hard worker in the practice room and “never complained.”

“Taylor wasn’t a state champion, but the points he got us for second were enough to keep us ahead of everybody,” he said.

He said hard work was a factor in all the wins, particularly Matt Grove’s.

“Matt started training for this tournament last summer,” Thorpe said. “He ran to daily doubles in soccer from his house in Foster. That young man got what he deserved.”

Grove, grinning as he sipped on a can of Coke, the first he’d tasted in many months, said he “just gave it my best” in his consolation final against Bullock.

” I expected to leave everything on the mat,” he said. “The whole season led up to this. I had to win, to put everything into that one match. I wrestled him earlier in the tournament and lost 6-3. I just focused on what I needed to do. I didn’t know (how important the win would be). I just gave it my all.”

Though Albright and Callagan lost the matches that could have sent them to the consolation finals, Crocker won his and then he, Matt Grove and Callagan finished with wins to cement the Huskies’ team title before the championship finals Saturday night.

Not all the Huskies were happy with their individual performances, but the team title was a fine consolation prize.

“It was amazing,” said Callagan, whose win tilted the balance for Sweet Home.

“I overachieved, I think,” he said. “My goal was to be district champ and finish in the top five in the state. I achieved that. It feels good. I didn’t know that we had won it (after his match). I thought it was going to go throughout. I can’t believe it.”

Thorpe said Callagan, a senior who won one match in the tournament last year, “has been a rock all year long.

“He hasn’t missed a match,” Thorpe said. “He beat the second- or third-ranked guy in his first match and he went out on an odd number €“ a win for a medal in the state tournament.”

Albright said he got off to a good start in the tournament, winning his first two matches until he met top-seeded Bo Younker of South Umpqua, who beat him 11-1 in the championship semifinals. Albright said his eventual fourth-place finish “is kind of nice” but he thinks he can do better.

“After my loss in the semis I went into a poop,” he said. “It’s nice to know that I placed, but going up against the number one seed, I felt a little intimidated. I thought I did all right for the most part, but as far as being satisfied, I thought I could have done better, personally.”

Thorpe said he’s glad Albright, who, he said, runs to school every morning with a backpack on from his home in the mid-city area, has a year left with the Huskies.

“He won some matches and placed this year,” he said. “Hopefully that will motivate him for next year.”

He said Perry was a key to the championship and typified the Huskies’ performance.

“Jack Perry is not just a high school kid,” he said. “He’s a man.”

He noted that Perry has wrestled his entire senior season with a shoulder that was injured during the 2007-08 season.

Though coaches kept him out of some matches this year in an attempt to get the shoulder to heal, it has been a constant problem for Perry.

“He refused to settle for just going out there,” Thorpe said. “Jack had a built-in excuse why he could not be successful. He chose to take it out on the mat every day. He got sixth place in the state tournament. He goes out of his high school career as a state placer.”

Thorpe said he’s proud of the way Crocker bounced back from his disappointing first-round loss to a wrestler who ended up winning the state title.

“He came off and said ‘I’m going to score points,'” Thorpe said. “He had three falls and lots of bonus points, including a 19-5 win, and he got third place.”

Crocker said his opening match, in which he lost 5-2 to Eleazar Deluca of Phoenix, who finished second, was a tough one.

“I knew he was good and I knew it was going to be a close match,” he said. “It didn’t go my way. I only lost by a couple of points.

“My goal was first, but I’m not going to complain about third. I should be seeded number one next year. That’s where I want to be.”

Mitch Grove, who, Thorpe noted, got things rolling with the first pin of the day in the consolation bracket Saturday, said he “didn’t get as far as I wanted, but I got pretty close.

“I’m not really ashamed to lose to these people,” said Grove, whose only losses were to eventual champion Adam Smith of Tillamook and second-seeded Dylan Mcallum of LaGrande in the consolation final. “I want to come back next year and improve my finish from this year.”

Holly, who didn’t qualify for the tournament last year, got his first taste of the state competition.

“It was a tough tournament,” he said. “I wish I would have done better.

“I’ll be back next year. I know what it’s like now. I’m going to be training harder during the off-season.”

Thorpe noted that Kris Newport lost a one-point match, 3-2, to the eventual state champion, Vince Morales of Ontario, and came back to score big points with two falls and a major decision before losing to David Converse of Newport, whom he had beaten decisively twice this season.

“To be state champ and then not place is heartbreaking,” Thorpe said. “I feel really bad for him. Hopefully he will learn from this. We’ll see how he responds.

“I’d hate to be the guy who wrestles him in this tournament next year.”

Thorpe emphasized the hard work that paid off in the state title for his team.

“These guys do daily doubles all season,” he said. “They go through horrific, brutal practices. They discipline what they put in their bodies.

“The payoff is here for their unselfish efforts.”

He said that his assistants, Tim Boatright, Steve Hummer, Steve Schilling, Eric Tagle and Kyle Temple, played a major role in getting the team ready for its big win.

Temple, Schilling and Tagle “come in as volunteer coaches, Thorpe said. “They are unselfish in their giving of their time to this program. I appreciate what they do.”

He said Hummer, who was waiting in the entry hallway to give Taylor Tagle a hug after his disappointing loss, and who grew up together with Thorpe, “is an intense coach, but he cares for the kids.”

And Boatright, who has been coaching wrestling for 29 years, “has my utmost respect as a coach and as a man,” Thorpe said. “He’s an integral part of what we do.”

Thorpe admitted he hit a low point as a coach earlier this season after the Reser Tournament, a major invitational involving many of the top teams in the state, in which the Huskies failed to win a medal. It was a turning point in the season, he said.

“I was disgusted,” Thorpe said. “I think I became relaxed as a coach. I went to work and made sure we prepared ourselves and that there were no surprises when we came here. They were ready to compete.”

Taylor Tagle said he appreciated how the Huskies stayed together as a team, particularly after the disappointments of the first day.

“We had a lot of people score a lot of points in the back door,” he said. “I think we did good. I think it’s cool that we won state as a team.”

Thorpe said the Huskies would take Sunday off “and enjoy this, then on Monday we’ll start getting ready for next year.

“The sport of wrestling is a brutal, unforgiving sport that’s not for the weak of heart or timid,” he said. “In it these kids are building character and integrity and those characteristics are exposed.

“I think we answered the call.”

4A State Wrestling


Sweet Home Results

112 €“ Unseeded Tyler Holly pinned Jonathan Fall (North Bend) 2:47 in the second round, lost to top-seeded Adam Hayner (Molalla) 14-4 to move into the consolation bracket; def. TJ Arthur (Banks) 4-3; lost 2-0 to Jesse Sargent (McLoughlin); lost 5-1 to Moe Brison (LaPine) to finish eighth.

112 €“ Fourth-seeded Matt Grove pinned Christian Mallare (Tillamook) 1:35 in the second round, lost to Ryan Bullock (McLoughlin) 6-3 to move into the consolation bracket; pinned Shane Licari (Estacada) 4:15; pinned Moe Brison (LaPine) 2:53; def. Chris Culver (Illinois Valley) 6-2; def. Ryan Bullock (McLoughlin) 7-3 to finish third.

119 €“ Fifth-seeded Mitch Grove def. Patrick Sheets (McLoughlin) 13-10 in the second round; was pinned by fourth-seeded Adam Smith (Tillamook) :42 to move into the consolation bracket; pinned Randy Steel (LaPine); pinned John Weaver (Estacada) 2:57; def. Nick Cheser (North Bend) 8-4; lost to Dylan McCallum (LaGrande) 13-3.

125 €“ Second-seeded Kris Newport lost 3-2 to Vince Morales (Ontario) in the second round to move into the consolation bracket; pinned Cade Hartley (Ontario) 2:50; pinned Joe Baynes (South Umpqua) 1:45; lost 14-12 to sixth-seeded David Converse (Newport). Did not medal.

130 €“ Unseeded Marshall Arndt def. Ryan Dozier (Cascade) 10-2 in the first round; lost to fifth-seeded Ray Mazyck (Brookings-Harbor) 7-2 to move into the consolation bracket; won by forfeit over Logan Grady (Banks); was pinned by Guy Russell (South Umpqua) 4:20; did not medal.

130 €“ Second-seeded Taylor Tagle pinned Ian Hopper (Pleasant Hill) 5:54 in the second round; def. Andrew Porter (Baker) 14-6; pinned Josh Stanley (Cottage Grove) 5:25 in the semifinals; lost to top-seeded Drew Erickson (Pleasant Hill) 12-5 in the finals to finish second.

135 €“ Unseeded Kyle Hummer def. Garry Elkins (Stayton) in the first round; lost to top-seeded Adam Sprague (Pleasant Hill) to move into the consolation bracket; def. Dillon Schieno (Tillamook) 5-0; def. Erik Olsen (Brookings-Harbor) 10-0; lost 11-3 to Quayde Fisher (Illinois Valley); did not medal.

140 €“ Second-seeded Brock Crocker lost 5-2 to Eleazar Deluca (Phoenix) in the second round to move into the consolation bracket; pinned Zack Evers (Banks) 2:37; pinned Chase Bond (Brookings-Harbor) 2:16; def. Charles Williams (Cottage Grove) 19-5; pinned Wyatt Law (McLoughlin) 4:00; def. Taelor Hess (Molalla) 3-2; def. Tyler Blythe (Stayton) 2-1 to finish third.

145 €“ Fifth-seeded Jack Perry def. Frank Lopez (Ontario) 7-4 in the sedon round; def. fourth-seeded Dan Mickelson (Tillamook) 3-2; lost to top-seeded Brady Lee (Molalla) 5-0; lost 7-1 to Andrew Gettle (Baker); lost 13-0 to third-seeded Jace Sargent (McLoughlin) to finish sixth.

152 €“ Unseeded Jacob Jewell was pinned by third-seeded Josh Warden (Phoenix) 1:24 to move into the consolation bracket; was pinned by Chris Benston (Cottage Grove) 1:19; did not medal.

160 €“ Unseeded Brad Pitts def. Harold Kottre (Tillamook) 4-1 in the first round; lost to Dillon Davidson (Cascade) 17-5 to move into the consolation bracket; pinned Kevin Knox (Junction City) :57; pinned Ron Hunt (Brookings-Harbor) 4:58; lost to Emmet Hellum (Phoenix) 5-0; did not medal.

160 €“ Unseeded Tyler Paulino was pinned by Cody Anders (Estacada) in the first round to move into the consolation bracket; was pinned by Ricky Hibbert (Cottage Grove) :52; did not medal.

172 €“ Unseeded Michael Harry was pinned by Cameron Wharton (Ontario) :30 to move into consolation bracket; was pinned by Josh Erickson (Philomath) 2:17; did not medal.

189 €“ Unseeded Anthony Albright pinned Cody Shaffer (LaGrande) 5:40 in the second round; pinned Cole Banta (Astoria) 3:56; lost 11-1 to top-seeded Bo Younker (South Umpqua); lost to third-seeded Cody Hayner (Newport) 3-2; lost to Ted Shaw (Baker) 10-4 to finish sixth.

215 €“ Unseeded Marc Callagan def. Eric Haney (Junction City) 8-5 in the second round; lost 6-1 to Chance Banta (Astoria); def. Jarred Houston (Illinois Valley) 12-4; def. Jake Shukle (Baker) 3-0; lost to top-seeded Lance Tausaga (Illinois Valley) 5-0; def. Eric Haney (Junction City) 3-2 to finish third.

285 €“ Unseeded Zane Wise was pinned by top-seeded Paul Guzman (North Valley) :30 to move into the consolation bracket; pinned Andrew Jones (Scappoose) :27; was pinned by Jacob Rush (Cascade) 2:16; did not medal.

285 €“ Unseeded Logan Clark was pinned by J.T. Strang (Tillamook) 5:14 in the first round to move into the consolation bracket; was pinned by Josiah Vassallo (Pleasant Hill) 3:56; did not medal.

4A State Wrestling Championships

Final Team Scores

1. Sweet Home 142.0

2. McLoughlin 122.5

3. La Grande 121.5

4. Illinois Valley 118.5

5. Tillamook 118.0

6. Henley 116.0

Scappoose 116.0

8. South Umpqua 114.5

9. Ontario 99.5

10. Molalla 99.0

11. Pleasant Hill 90.5

12. Cottage Grove 88.0

13. Phoenix 86.0

14. Cascade 84.0

15. North Marion 67.5

16. Estacada 60.5

17. Baker 56.0

18. Astoria 40.0

19. Philomath 36.0

20. North Valley 34.0

21. La Pine 33.0

22. Douglas 31.0

23. North Bend 30.5

24. Sutherlin 27.5

25. Central 26.0

Newport 26.0

Stayton 26.0

28. Brookings-Harbor 21.0

29. Elmira 18.0

30. Junction City 11.0

31. Sisters 10.0

32. Siuslaw 9.0

33. Banks 6.0

Gladstone 6.0

Taft 6.0

36. Seaside 4.0

37. Hidden Valley 3.0

38. Marist 0.0

Yamhill-Carlton 0.0