Despite losing to Challis and Century in Hailey Friday night, the Wood River wrestling team was much improved after a dismal season debut against Jerome last week (a 79-0 shut-out), providing some promise for the future.
"As a team they looked more alive, more excited about the sport as a whole," said Wood River's first-year head coach, Logan Brower. "They just did a lot better, they were there to wrestle."
Challis, which has won three of the last four State 2A wrestling titles, beat the Wolverines 78-12, and Century rolled to a 60-9 victory.
But the Wolverines also got their first individual victories of the season, as sophomore Jonathan Diem (119-pound class) pinned Challis' Jeremia Robinson in the first period. And Collin Hand (189-pound class), also a Wood River sophomore, won by decision in his second match, edging Century's D.J. Long 4-1.
"That was good to see," Brower said. "But (Hand) still has some things to work on—everybody still has some things to work on."
A total of seven varsity wrestlers competed for Wood River.
Brower was most impressed with junior Jordan Vert (152-pound class), who despite losing both of his matches wrestled tough, particularly against Challis.
Vert first wrestled Challis' Jared Leuzinger, a two-time state champion, and lost by the slim margin of 2-0.
"That was the one that stood out to me," Brower said. "That was a great match."
Against Century, Vert was pinned in the second period by Danny Shinny.
Senior Sid Watson (125-pound class) also wrestled strong against Challis, forcing a decision with Cody Ivie, who won 6-2. Watson was later pinned by Century's Tyler Davis in the first period.
Brower was also encouraged by freshman Alex Jones (135-pound class), who has limited experience but tons of potential. Jones was pinned in the second period of both his matches.
"He looked really tough for a beginning wrestler," Brower said.
Sophomore C.J. Gorringe (160-pound class) and senior Jesse Broadie (171-pound class) put up good fights but were pinned in both of their matches.
Challis also beat Century in their meet.
Wrestling aside, the evening was highlighted by events surrounding the Brower family. Logan's brother, Dillon, is an assistant coach at Challis, where both wrestled and graduated. Their father, Scott Brower, who graduated from Wood River High in 1979, was a long-time assistant wrestling coach at Challis.
Scott was killed in a plane crash Aug. 27 in Custer County.
Friday night brought the family together again.
Logan and Dillon each presented their mother, Della, a bouquet of roses before the match started Friday night. The gesture elicited a standing ovation from Challis and Wood River fans, and tears from Della.
"It was fun seeing all the people from Challis and having mom and Dillon there," Logan said, adding that their uncle also flew down from Alaska to surprise them at the meet. "But she kind of cussed us for making her cry in front of everyone."
Wood River, which faced Minico Tuesday night, will wrestle in the Bear Cat Invitational in Jerome this Friday and Saturday.