Of all the winter athletic squads at Hailey's Wood River High School, the Wolverine wrestling team is probably impacted the least by this year's move from 3A up to the bigger school 4A in all competition.
For one thing, Wood River is facing a schedule of 15 dual meets and five tournaments that is remarkably similar to last winter's schedule. The other factor is that wrestling is primarily an individual sport.
"It's me against you in wrestling, so it doesn't really matter what school you're from," said Wood River's fourth-year coach Danny Turner, who sent 11 of his 17 wrestlers to the State 3A meet in Pocatello last year.
Turner and assistant coaches Kim Orchard and Don Miller have welcomed a solid turnout of 25 wrestlers in the ninth through 12th grades. The 2004-05 season begins Tuesday, Dec. 7 when Wood River entertains reigning district champion Jerome in Hailey.
"We're happy with the turnout," said Turner. "The kids are motivated. They've had a little success so they know what it tastes like—and they're working hard. We did lose some good seniors, but we've got kids returning from last year who qualified for state."
The five seniors at state were Duane Miller (33-8), Robert Wiesen (24-12), Brandon Silvia (29-10). Russell Adams (23-12) and Brad Dussell (14-14). But five of the six underclassmen at state are returning for WRHS.
That group is led by senior Greg Lyons (160/171), who won four of his six matches wrestling undersized in the 189-pound class and finished a surprising fourth at state. "Greg has gotten a lot stronger over the summer. He has wrestled and lifted and he ran cross country," said Turner. Lyons was 27-10 last season, 64-43 in three years.
Last year's district 103-pound king and state runner-up Murdock Miller (34-5) is only a sophomore. He's wrestling at 125 or 130 this winter. "Murdock went up four weight classes and he'll have an eye-opener. But we expect good things of him," Turner said.
Although Wood River is in the tougher 4A class this season, the combined Fourth and Fifth districts have landed a combined five state berths from each weight class for the 48th annual Idaho State Wrestling Championships Feb. 24 in Nampa.
Wrestlers from Wood River, Jerome, Minico, Burley, Pocatello, Century and Preston will battle for the five state spots. Last year among six 3A schools, there were only three state berths decided at the district meet.
Turner said, "It's a lot better for us going for five spots. Sure they've added three tougher teams. But with the kids we have, we'll compete with anyone. Preston and Minico are probably the two favorites going in."
Lyons is Wood River's only senior. The juniors include state qualifiers Josh Orchard (18-10) and last year's district unlimited champion Dustin Selner (23-10), along with Donald Sluder, T.J. Squires, Tim Vert and newcomer Alex Burwell.
Orchard will wrestle 140 pounds, while Sluder is at 152/160, Squires at 189, Vert at 145, Selner unlimited and Burwell at 160. Selner won two matches at state last year and has gotten stronger and leaner, Turner said.
Besides Murdock Miller, the Wolverine sophomores are returning state qualifier Jordan Vert (140/145) and Levi Stinnett (152/160).
Turner said he was a great group of freshmen led by Collin Hand (171/189) and Isaac Sherbine (103). Hand was a state finalist in freestyle, Turner said, and Sherbine has plenty of experience plus the blood-line. He's a son of 1973-74 state wrestling champion Rocky Sherbine of Bellevue.
Other freshmen are Josh Christiansen (112), Matt Libert (135/140), Jonathan Diem (112), Cameron Hairston (112), Ricky Maxwell (119/125) and Pedro Morales (103).
Turner said, "The freshman class has an impressive work ethic. That's great to see. They've learned a lot already, in only a few days of practice. And the good thing is all our younger kids have a chance to wrestle in all five of our tournaments this year."
He added, "It will be an exciting season. And it's good to have five home meets this year." Wood River has tournaments in Jerome, Buhl, Rexburg, Sugar City and Challis.
2004-05 WRHS wrestling Schedule
A total 15 dual meets and 5 tournaments on the regular-season schedule for the 2004-05 Wolverines including 5 home meets. All home games at Wood River High School gym, Hailey. General admission $5. The Great Basin Conference includes 7 teams—WR, Jerome, Burley, Minico, Pocatello, Century and Preston.
Dec. 7, Tuesday...Jerome (V/JV)...Home, 6:00
Dec. 10, Friday...Century, Challis (V/JV)...Home, 6:00
Dec. 14, Tuesday...Twin Falls (V/JV)...Away, 6:00
Dec. 17, Friday...Bear Cat Invitational (V/JV)...Jerome, Twin, 3:00
Dec. 18, Saturday...Bear Cat Invitational (V/JV)...Jerome, Twin, 8:00
Dec. 21, Tuesday...Burley, Kimberly (V/JV)...Burley, 6:00
Jan. 4, Tuesday...Minico (V/JV)...Home, 6:00
Jan. 7, Friday...Buhl Invitational (V/JV)...Buhl, 3:00
Jan. 8, Saturday...Buhl Invitational (V/JV)...Buhl, 8:00
Jan. 8, Saturday...Twin Falls Invitational (JV)...Twin Falls, 8:00
Jan. 13, Thursday...Filer, Wendell...Filer, 6:00
Jan. 14, Friday...Madison Invitational (V/JV)...Rexburg, 3:00
Jan. 15, Saturday...Madison Invitational (V/JV)...Rexburg, 8:00
Jan. 19, Wednesday...Valley (JV)...Hazelton, 6:00
Jan. 21, Friday...Sugar-Salem Invitational (V)...Sugar City, 3:00
Jan. 22, Saturday...Sugar-Salem Invitational (V)...Sugar City, 8:00
Jan. 28, Friday...Century (V/JV)...Pocatello, 6:00
Feb. 2, Wednesday...Preston, Hillcrest, Bonneville (V/JV)...Preston, 4:00
Feb. 4, Friday...Challis Invitational...Challis, 3:00
Feb. 5, Saturday...Challis Invitational...Challis, 8:00
Feb. 8, Tuesday...Buhl (V/JV)...Home, 6:00
Feb. 10, Thursday...Gooding (V/JV)...Home, 6:00
Feb. 14, Monday...District 4A tournament...Pocatello HS, TBA
Feb. 24, Thursday...State 4A...Idaho Center, Nampa
NOTES—The 48th annual State 4A wrestling meet sponsored by the Idaho High School Activities Association is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 24-26 at The Idaho Center in Nampa.....The Great Basin Conference 4A ranks comprised of Wood River, Jerome, Minico, Burley, Pocatello, Century and Preston gets 5 state representatives for each weight class....Booster athletic season tickets for all Wood River sporting events during the 2004-05 school year are available for $45 per person ($75 couples) at the high school. Drop by the high school and see athletic director Ron Martinez. Senior citizens 65-and-over are admitted free.