Consistency is a point of pride for Sweet Home wrestling.
The Huskies have been a model of success in recent years, taking home a team trophy from the 4A tournament in each of the last five seasons, including a title in 2017 and runner-up finishes in 2019 and 2020.
“What I like about our program is we're always in the hunt,” coach Steve Thorpe said. “We don't have flashes, or one and done. This program has a lot of good kids and coaches, and we keep reloading.”
This past year has presented a unique challenge in maintaining that standard. But early indications are that the Huskies continue to be among the 4A elite.
“It's a lot easier to do this and compete when everything is normal,” Thorpe said. “But to do this in the situation they are in, and still show up, that takes something, I'm telling you.”
Sweet Home was impressive in winning the eight-team Pape Linn County Championships on Saturday at Scio. The Huskies scored 280.5 points to outpace Lebanon and West Albany, who tied for second with 174 points.
“We're solid,” Thorpe said. “I like that these guys have shown some fortitude, and shown some commitment and discipline and perseverance. I kind of like where we are right now.”
In Saturday's tournament, the Huskies got division titles from freshman Kyle Sieminski (106), sophomore Jake Sieminski (120), freshman Ryker Hartsook (145), junior Brayden Newport (152), junior Jesse Jamison (160) and senior Jake Fanning (220).
Sweet Home overcame not only the competition at the outdoor meet, but also the elements.
“We even had a rain delay at one point,” Thorpe said. “When she sun came out, those black mats absorb the heat, so we did have to shut it down for a little time and let the cloud cover get back over and cool the mat some. It's definitely something I don't want to get used to.”
The Huskies graduated two state champions from last season in Jackson Royer (138) and Travis Thorpe (160) but returned a slew of state placers.
The group includes Jake Sieminski (fourth-106), senior Treyson Smith (fifth-106) and juniors Kyle Watkins (fourth-113), Christian Gregory (fourth-132), Jamison (fourth-170) and Newport (fifth-145). Current senior Tristan Spencer (138) made it to the semifinals. Smith, Spencer, Watkins and Newport are two-time state placers.
Jake Sieminski has started the season 12-0. Spencer, Newport and Jamison each have only one loss for the Huskies, who opened the season with a dual-meet loss to reigning 6A champion Newberg.
Jake Sieminski is the son of assistant coach Clint Sieminski, a 1999 Sweet Home graduate who was the first three-time state champion under Thorpe and a member of two state title teams. Jake is eager to make up for last year's disappointing finish.
“Fourth in state for him last year was actually a little bit of an underachievement,” Thorpe said. “He's hungry. He's ready to get some work done, that's for sure. He's awfully solid, awfully good right now. Jake has put in the time. He's been finding every wrestling opportunity he can.”
The Huskies will be the team to beat when they play host to the 4A Special District 2 regional meet June 17.
“It's loaded this year. It's always loaded,” Thorpe said of the district. “Numbers are down across the board, but there's a lot of depth in that region.”
Thorpe said he expects the Huskies and reigning state champion La Grande to battle for supremacy in a season-ending 4A showcase tournament at Cascade on June 25-26.
Mauro Michel, who won 4A titles at 106 and 113 for Cascade as a freshman and sophomore the last two years, has transferred to 4A Stayton, where his brothers Joseph, Flavio and Anthony wrestled.
“I've always lived in Stayton, and I wanted to transfer back,” said Michel, who attended school in Stayton through the seventh grade. “It's just nice being back at a school where my family started off. When they moved from California to Oregon, they wrestled at Stayton.”
Stayton coach Stuart Peterson said it's nice to have Michel back.
“I think he kind of wanted to carry on that family tradition,” Peterson said. “His brothers' names are on our state placer board, and he wants to get his name up there with his brothers.”
Michel has not lost this season.
“He's a real presence in the room, sort of like another coach in the room with the experience that he brings,” Peterson said. “And he's a super nice kid to have in the halls at Stayton High School. It's been great.”
La Grande rolls
La Grande, last year's 4A champion, won all three of its dual meets in the Pendleton Duals on June 4. The Tigers defeated Riverside 78-6, Pendleton 60-18 and Banks 51-27.
In the win over Banks, which finished eighth at state last year, La Grande got pins from Mason Wolcott (106), Rogan Willins (113), Delia Gulzow (120), Joshua Collins (132), Brysen Penaloza (138) and Braden Carson (145).
Penaloza, who placed third at 106 in the 4A meet last year, also had pins against Riverside and Pendleton.