The 3A state wrestling championships have been chalk full of trophies for eastern Idaho teams in recent seasons.
Since the 2009-10 school year, at least two eastern Idaho schools each year have brought home state wrestling trophies. Sugar-Salem enters this weekend as two-time defending 3A state champions and with 12 state titles in program history, and head coach Keven Glider said he anticipates another competitive trophy race in 3A. He mentioned Snake River, South Fremont and defending state runner-up Fruitland as teams vying for trophies with the Diggers.
“It’s gonna be tight,” Glider said Wednesday by phone. “Snake River’s awful tough. They’re well-coached with tough athletes. South Fremont’s got a bunch of hungry wrestlers eager to do well. Of course, we’re looking for that title also. We’re looking forward to a great state tournament.”
Glider said the Diggers graduated several seniors from last year’s repeat state championship team, including 113-pound champion Logan Tingey, 152-pound fourth place finisher Ace Christensen and 160-pound third place medalist Wolf Bennion. But the cupboard is far from bare, as last year’s medalists senior Jonathan Marin (runner-up at 106 last year, No. 1 seed at that weight this year), senior Caleb Norman (defending 126-pound champion now a No. 1 seed at 132), sophomore Daxtyn Zollinger (sixth place at 132 now wrestling at 138), junior Browning Bennion (third at 182 last year now wrestling at 195) and junior Kenneth Copley (reigning 285 runner-up now a No. 1 seed at that weight) return. Copley won 285 at the annual Tiger-Grizz Invitational in January while Norman took second in 126. Glider commended his older wrestlers for helping the younger wrestlers along throughout the season.
“It definitely gives us an advantage having been there in the past,” Glider said. “We do have a lot of young guys coming in this year. They’ve come a long ways. They’ve worked awful hard.”
The last 3A team to win three consecutive state titles was American Falls from 2008 to 2010. The team titles since then have exchanged hands between Snake River, Weiser, Fruitland and Sugar-Salem. Glider said the Diggers look to give the competition a good go and hope to ‘put everything together’ this weekend for a much desired three-peat.
“We’ve got some guys that can go a long way’s in the tournament,” Glider said. “We’re peaking at the right time and I think we’re right where we need to be.”
STATE WRESTLING GLANCE
Madison’s lone medalists from last year, Austin Burrell (152), Devin Smith (160) and 220-pound champion Tyrel Clark all graduated. The Bobcats, who took second to Highland at the 5A District 5-6 championships, send 13 wrestlers to state. Diego Vergara (106), Crit Wilcox (120), Jaden Smith (138), Tyson Clark (145) and Tre Clark (195) enter state as individual district champions.
Thunder Ridge, which placed third at districts in its first year of existence, has 12 wrestlers competing this weekend. Among them is 98-pound No. 1 seed Kaden Ramos, who enters having won a Tiger-Grizz and district title. He placed third at 98 last year for Hillcrest.
Rigby, fourth-place at districts, sends six wrestlers to state. Among them are individual district champions Ethan Waldron (113), who placed sixth at 113 last year, and Jaxson Shipper (182).
Blackfoot sends 18 wrestlers to state from its 4A District 6 championship team. Esai Castaneda is a No. 1 seed for 126 and took second in that weight class last year while Nick Chappell (170) was sixth at 160, Landon Abercrombie (106) was third at 98, Landon Evans (132) was sixth at 120 and Daniel Andrade (138) was third at 132.
Bonneville has 15 wrestlers competing this weekend. Matthew Boone (195) enters as a No. 1 seed at 195. Braxton Sorenson was fourth at 132, Cooper French sixth at 145, Boone fourth at 182 and Joel Bowman fifth at 285 last year, all at 5A.
Shelley has six wrestlers competing at state. Kolton Stacey won the 3A 98-pound title last year, Taylor Balmforth (152) was third at 145, Kyle DeRoache was fifth at 106 and is now wrestling at 120 and Zane Morris (195) was sixth at 195.
Hillcrest qualified four wrestlers for state. The Knights had two medalists last year, Derek Ramos (runner-up at 126. graduated) and Kaden Ramos (third at 98), the latter of whom now wrestles for Thunder Ridge.
Idaho Falls qualified four wrestlers this year. Kayson Kenney (120) entershaving placed fifth at 113 last year champ) and Brigid Shannon (132) won her weight class at Idaho’s unofficial first girls wrestling state championships on Feb. 9 in Pocatello.
Skyline has five wrestlers competing this weekend. Cameron Paulson (120) was sixth at 106 last year and Keaton Cushmen (152) was fifth at 152 last year.
In addition to Sugar-Salem, east Idaho’s 3A teams are well represented this weekend.
South Fremont qualified 17 wrestlers for state. Three have No. 1 seeds: Easton Banta is (138), Tristan Olson (160) No. 1 seed) and Sawyer Hobbs (182). Hackworth was fifth at 126 last year, Hobbs won the 170-pound title and Jordan Dodge was fifth at 285, which he is wrestling at this year.
Teton qualified 10 wrestlers for state. Josh Bednar is a No. 1 seed at 170. Cooper Cooke (120) and Hunter Hill (132) placed second and third at 113 last year, respectively, Bednar was fourth at 170 and Aiden Walters (160) was sixth at 152.
Snake River qualified 13 wrestlers, including No. 1 seeds Destin Summers (126), Sway Cook (138), Rogelio Caldera (152). Summer was second at 126 last year, Gus Carter (106) was second at 98, Cook second at 132, Kyle Richardson (132) fourth at 126 and Tate Benson (145) was fourth at 138.
Ririe joined Parma and Teton last year as the only wrestling programs in Idaho at any classification to win four consecutive state titles. The Bulldogs send 16 wrestlers to state, including returning medalists Stetson Machen (No. 1 seed at 113. Third at 106 last year), Tanner Smith (126. fifth at 113), Dan Schwendiman (145. sixth at 138), Trey Yearsley (182. third at 170), Gabe Sommers (195. second at 195).
North Fremont has 13 wrestlers competing this weekend. Among them are returning medalists Kohl Nielson (second at 106. No. 1 seed at 120), Jacob Pilgrim (126. fifth at 120) and Riggin Cordingley (145 pound champ. No. 1 seed at 152.)
Challis qualified six wrestlers. Among them are returning medalists Kade Bruno (No. 1 seed at 126. 132 pound champ), Cooper Erickson (No. 1 seed at 170. 160-pound champ).
West Jefferson has five wrestlers at state. Kelton White (third at 285) is the lone returning medalist and is a No. 1 seed at 285.
Salmon qualified six wrestlers. Among them are returning medalists Troy Bruce (98-pound champ last year. No. 1 seed at 113) and Cahl Williams (126. Third at 120).
Firth qualified four wrestlers.