Three Challis High School wrestlers came home with medals from last week’s state wrestling championships.

As a team, Challis placed third among 1A schools, coach Bill Bradshaw said, the first time in 17 years the Blackhearts weren’t the division champs. But, the absence of a trophy doesn’t diminish the pride Bradshaw has in his team.

“I’m so proud of this team,” he said.

Cooper Erickson finished second in the 170-pound division, losing in the finals round. Kade Bruno was fourth in the 132-pound class. And, Blaine Ammar placed sixth in the 195-pound division. All three boys are seniors.

Bruin Bradshaw went 3-2 on the weekend, DJ Lanier split 2-2 and Colton Battley “wrestled tough” but was out after his 0-2 start, the coach said. The state championships follow a double-elimination pattern, so wrestlers stay in the game until they lose twice.

“We had some tough losses,” Bradshaw said. “We didn’t wrestle to our potential. Wrestling is a mental game, and once you lose that mental game and forget the fundamentals, it’s hard to pull out from that.”

Some of the Blackhearts simply “got away from some of the things which we focused on in the past,” the coach said.

At the tournament and again this week, Bradshaw reminded his competitors that a state wrestling tournament “doesn’t define what they will be or will do in life. There are a lot better things to come for them than a wrestling tournament.”

The state meet was a tough tournament, Bradshaw said, with good competition at every level.

“Statewide there were a lot of upsets,” he said. “A lot of No. 1 and No. 2 guys went down” and didn’t capture the titles in their weight classes, as had been projected.

Battley, Bradshaw and Charlie Bullock are the only non-senior active team members and coach Bradshaw expects the three boys back next year to help the Blackhearts rebuild the squad.

“We will miss the four seniors. They’re hanging up their singlets,” he said, but he’s ready to welcome the next group of grapplers. He’ll be looking to the future at the March 6 youth wrestling tournament at Challis High School.

“That’s where we start our next teams,” he said of the “little guy” wrestling program.

The coach expressed his appreciation for and thanks to the Challis parents and supporters who traveled to Pocatello for the state tournament, many of whom are wrestling fans but don’t have students on the team and who supported the team all season.

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