They qualified three for state last February, but Wood River High School wrestlers took another big rebuilding step by doubling that total during Wednesday's Great Basin Conference 4A meet in Preston.
Coach Tyson Young's Wood River program qualified six wrestlers for the 52nd annual Idaho State Wrestling meet, to be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27-28 at Duffy Holt Arena on the campus of Idaho State University in Pocatello.
Earning second-place finishes during Wednesday's seven-school conference meet were junior Tanner Orchard (2-1) at 145 pounds and senior Alex Jones (1-1) at 160 pounds.
Jones will carry the third seed into the state tournament and will open up against Jorrale Nay from Minico Friday. Orchard is the fifth seed at 145 and will face Manny Geyer from Hillcrest of Idaho Falls.
Placing third by winning their final conference matches were sophomore Tyler Bartlett (3-1) at 103 pounds, junior Nick Chase (3-1) at 130 and sophomore Andrew Orr (3-1) at 152. In fifth was senior JJ Thomson (2-2) at 189 pounds.
Only the top five wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes qualified for state.
Wood River had 15 wrestlers at Preston and nine others showed promise for the future. Young said, "This is just the beginning! They need to hit the weight room and build on what they have. Summer wrestling makes winter champions."
Freshman Auden Ruhter (1-3) earned sixth place at 215. Other wrestlers were Kasey Baker (1-2) and Juve Ruiz (1-2) at 171, Teague Ruhter (0-2) at 145, Zach Ezell (0-2) and Tyler Jaramillo (0-2) at 140, JR Hill (0-2) at 135, Andrew Beck (0-2) at 119 and Zach Brown (0-2) at 112.
Young said, "Our wrestlers surprised me a little, but I'm tickled. These guys really battled hard at the conference meet. Some of them like Tyler Bartlett, JJ Thomson and Nick Chase really stepped it up.
"I knew we were capable of performing at this level down the home stretch and I am extremely proud of each and every guy. But we are far from done. Our state qualifiers need to battle and wrestle harder than ever before to achieve their end-of-year goals."
The Jerome Tigers (358), Great Basin champs in 2003 and 2004, dethroned two-time defending GBC champion Minico of Rupert (328.5 points) on Wednesday. In third place was Pocatello (278.5). Bunched up in fourth, fifth and sixth places were Preston (110.5), Century of Pocatello (101.5) and sixth-place Wood River (100.5).
Northside boys battle on Carey's court
The state-qualifying North Northside Conference 1A Division 2 boys' basketball tournament is underway in Carey, although one of the league's eight teams has dropped out.
On Monday, #8-seeded Magic Valley Christian (0-17, 0-14 league) informed Carey athletic director Lee Cook that they would be dropping out of the tournament. Cook had to quickly re-draw the bracket.
Despite the last-minute withdrawal of the Conquerors, the top three Northside teams from this week's conference meet will still qualify for the State 1A Division 2 tournament Thursday, March 5 at Caldwell.
Carey is seeking its 13th state tourney berth in 17 years.
Here was Tuesday's redrawn first-round schedule:
At 5 p.m., #3-seeded Dietrich (14-6, 10-4) vs. #6-seeded Community School (4-15, 4-10); at 6:30 p.m. #4-seeded Murtaugh (11-7, 9-5) vs. #5-seeded Bliss (5-12, 5-9); and at 8 p.m. #2-seeded Carey (16-4, 11-3) vs. #7-seeded Camas County (3-16, 3-11).
Junior varsity tournament action begins today, Wednesday with top-seeded Carey meeting #4-seeded Murtaugh at 5 p.m. and #2-seeded Dietrich going against the #3-seeded Richfield JV at 6:30 p.m. Today at 8 p.m. there will be a loser-out varsity game between the Carey-Camas and Dietrich-Community School losers.
The #1-seeded Richfield varsity has to wait until Thursday, Feb. 26 to play the winner of Tuesday's Murtaugh-Bliss game. The JV championship is Thursday at 5 p.m., and the varsity championship Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m.
Brunker's 20 leads WRHS boys in finale
Senior guard Michale Brunker scored a career-high 20 points including four 3-pointers Thursday during Wood River High School's 60-48 road loss to Burley in the Great Basin Conference West boys' basketball tournament.
Brunker (8.9 ppg) sparked the Wolverines, but coach John Radford's Hailey squad couldn't keep up with the two-time defending State 4A champions in the second half and saw their season wrap up with the 12-point loss in Burley.
The Idaho 4A #2-ranked Jerome Tigers (21-2, 6-0 league) won the GBW title and automatic berth in the State 4A tourney March 5 in Caldwell with a 62-52 home win over Burley (11-13) Monday night.
Brunker was one of seven Wood River scorers against #2-seeded Burley in Thursday's elimination game. Wood River battled well in the first half and held Burley to a 24-23 lead, but the Bobcats broke away with a 21-10 advantage in the third.
Wood River (2-18) ended its campaign with six consecutive losses and was 0-8 in its league games, outscored by GBW foes 64-42. Burley, a 55-50 loser to #3-seeded Minico in last Tuesday's opening round, stayed alive Saturday with a 62-58 overtime win that ousted Minico (9-14) from the tourney.
Final WRHS season statistics: Record 2-18 (1-8 home, 1-10 away, 0-6 league). Offense: 865 points (43.3 ppg). Defense: 1190 (59.5 ppg).
Individual scoring: Bryan Tidwell 236 points (11.8 ppg, 353 points career), 12 games in double figures; Michale Brunker 178 (8.9, 269 points career); Greg Wakefield 121 (7.6, 263 points career); Clive Hope III 134 (6.7); Jordan Doan 69; Sean Bunce 37; Keven Abbott 35; Juan Martinez 23; Stone Sutton 12; Quentin Dowdle 8; Kevin Jensen 7; Ryan Dean 7; and Collin Dean 2. Free throws: 175-253, 69%, opposing teams 273-428, 64%. 3-pointers (72): Brunker 26 (40 career), Wakefield 13, Hope 12, Doan 7, Tidwell 5, Sutton 4.