PORTLAND — At the start of this season, Sweet Home High coach Steve Thorpe told his two defending state champions that if they each hoped to capture another title, it would be a lot harder the second time around.
Seniors Jackson Royer and Travis Thorpe each had a title to their name entering Saturday, and each needed to win just one more match to make it a second. Throughout the season, they gradually realized that their coach was correct.
“He told us that the first (title) is always the easiest,” Royer said. “You come back with a target on your back, all these guys are chasing you. They know you and they want it just as bad as you do.”
The pressure only increased Saturday when it became apparent the Huskies would need every possible point to stay in contention for a 4A state team title. And yet, the pair of seniors delivered.
Royer captured the title at 138 pounds, and Thorpe won at 160 a little over half an hour later to push the Huskies to a second-place team finish Saturday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Travis Thorpe, Steve’s son, said sharing the second title with his father was especially meaningful.
“I can’t even tell you about the hours — the thousands and thousands of hours that we’ve put in,” Travis Thorpe said. “Those extra hours where it was just us, they definitely paid off. No matter what, I wouldn’t take it back.”
The No. 2 seed at 138, Royer got his title at 132 pounds last season. He said he competed with a chip on his shoulder all weekend after learning that he would not be the No. 1 seed in his bracket.
“That was definitely frustrating,” Royer said. “Last Sunday, when the brackets came out and I saw I wasn’t the one seed, I was like, ‘That’s a joke. I need to be the one seed.’ That definitely was a motivation.”
In his finals bout against top seed Jesse Jones of McLoughlin/Weston McEwen, Royer left little to doubt and delivered an 11-2 win by major decision. Neither wrestler scored a point in the first round, but Royer racked up five quick points with a takedown followed by a near-fall midway through the second. From that point, he never lost control of the match.
“It feels good, especially when you just dominate an entire match like that it feels awesome,” Royer said.
Thorpe won the 152-pound title last season and entered this weekend as the No. 1 seed at 160. His opponent, No. 2-seeded Alex Werner of Tillamook, wrestled against the Huskies at a dual meet earlier this season, but Thorpe said the two had not personally squared off since they were kids.
With the team score in the back of his mind, Thorpe knew immediately he wanted to go for the major decision to generate maximum points. He jumped out to a 2-0 first-round lead and then racked up five more quick ones in the second round to put the match away early.
“I knew I could just do my average and still beat him, so I just picked it up and decided to major him,” Thorpe said.
The Huskies held a solid lead in the team standings immediately after Thorpe’s victory, but he was their last wrestler competing in the finals. La Grande had a competitor in each of the final four matches and gradually trimmed the Sweet Home lead, eventually winning the title when Christopher Woodworth won at 195 pounds. The Huskies finished second.
The Huskies also got plenty of scoring in the consolation finals to help boost their final tally.
Nich James captured a third-place finish by pinning Johnny Sylva of Stayton in 55 seconds. Jake Sieminksi (106), Kyle Watkins (113), Rian Howard (126), Christian Gregory (132) and Jesse Jamison (170) all took fourth for Sweet Home.
Treyson Smith scored fifth place at 106 when he pinned North Valley’s Basen Rambo in 1:40, and Brayden Newport won my major decision against Wyatt Livingston of La Grande by a score of 17-8 at 145. Tristan Spencer (138), Kenny Storms (220) and David McMullen (285) each took sixth place in their respective brackets for the Huskies.
Philomath took 11th in the team standings with 60 points. Warriors’ junior Issiah Blackburn defeated teammate Connor Kohn, also a junior, in the third-place match at 195. Blackburn won by a 10-5 decision. Blaise Pindell took home fourth at 145.
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