Wrestling: Experienced Huskies looking for state trophy – preferably first

Scott Swanson

The Sweet Home wrestling team is loaded with talent and experience this year, which isn’t unusual for the Huskies.

But coming off a second-place finish at state last year, the Huskies return eight state place-winners, including two state champions.

They won the OSAA 4A Special District 2 regional title for the fourth year in a row before placing second at state, behind a loaded Tillamook squad, 264½ points to 241.

Sweet Home also has numbers this year, with 43 wrestlers on the high school roster as the Huskies open their season Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the Dick Weisbrodt Duals at Lebanon. Their first home match will be Tuesday, Dec. 10, beginning at 4 p.m. when they host Stayton, Reedsport and South Albany.

“We come into this season with a lot of experience,” said Head Coach Steve Thorpe, who enters his 24th year leading the program. “Our numbers are good throughout the program. Right now, we have the most we’ve ever had in program. We’re going to have a lot of kids return who lettered and placed in the regional tournament. That’s going to help out with our depth.”

Thorpe noted that the feeder programs for the high school team are also booming – 50 at Sweet Home Junior High and approximately 90 youngsters in the Mat Club.

The Huskies aren’t going to be able to sneak up on the rest of the state.

“We enter this year with a very big target on our backs,” Thorpe said. “We welcome that.”

Back for their senior seasons are Jackson Royer and Travis Thorpe, both of whom won state titles last year, Royer at 132 pounds and Thorpe at 152.

Also returning is senior Nich James, who placed second at 182 to Tillamook senior Fabian Niemi.

“That returning experience sets the tone in the room,” Steve Thorpe said.