Girls wrestling camp participants triple in its second year

By Scott Swanson

Seventy-plus girls, ages junior high through high school, jogged around the floor of the Main Gym Monday evening, July 11, during the second annual Women’s Santiam Wrestling Camp hosted by Sweet Home High School.

That number was triple the turnout for the inaugural camp, held last summer, and Sweet Home Coach Steve Thorpe and Mike Simons of Thurston, the camp directors, said it is a reflection of what’s happening in the sport.

“I knew it would grow, but not – I mean this is almost triple how much we had last year and I’d be shocked if we didn’t maybe double or triple again next year,” said Simons, who has been a leader in the growth of the girls sport. “I mean, it’s been pretty amazing.”

Thorpe said approximately 30 communities were represented among the participants.

“It just shows that once you start providing opportunities, there’s people out there that want to take advantage of that,” he said.

On Monday evening, they were led by Linfield University Coach Alyssa Lampe, who joined Linfield’s staff last winter after the school announced last fall it was adding wrestling as both a men’s and women’s sport.

Lampe, originally from Tomahawk, Wis., returned to active competition in the sport last year after winning bronze medals in the 2012 and 2013 World Championships, and a gold at the 2009 Pan American Championships. A six-time member of the U.S. women’s national team, she finished second in this year’s national freestyle championships, losing to Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Hildebrandt in June.

“She’s something else,” said Thorpe, who told campers “We’re very fortunate to have Alyssa here,” as the evening session Lampe was to lead began. “So pay attention, be mature in the sport and make sure she’s glad she came here and she’ll want to come back here again.”

Kassi Zajic of Sweet Home works on her technique with a partner.

Kassi Zajic of Sweet Home works on her technique with a partner.

Earlier in the weekend, Thorpe noted, Sweet Home alum Marissa Kurtz and former Thurston wrestler Macey Stewart, both now wrestling for Southern Oregon University, were helping at the camp and brought along Raider teammates Emma Baertlein and Glory Konecny.

Thorpe said the camp was, “quite honestly, fun.”

“Kids talk about getting woken up to the song “Gloria” every morning. They they groan about the runs, but they have fun activities,” he said.

Thorpe expressed appreciation to the community and to district administrators and staffers who, he said, allowed the camp to happen.

“I don’t know how many schools, how many communities would welcome a camp like this,” he said. “From your Safeway, your Dairy Queen, your Dollar Store you know, let alone what our school does to open itself up and create opportunity for these kids is absolutely incredible.

“They support our Sweet Home kids, but they’re supporting the growth and development of everybody.”

Simons said he was excited just to see the girls able to come to such a camp.

“Just to see the skill level, to see the development,” he said. “I know we’re calling it a girls camp, but – and I know Steve’s the same way – this is just wrestling to us.”