Solid podium finishes by seniors Alex Thomas and Kasey Barker highlighted Wood River High School's weekend during the 54th annual Idaho High School Wrestling Championships Feb. 24-26 at The Idaho Center in Nampa.
Thomas (11-5) won three of his five matches in the State 4A 285-pound class and placed fourth. He had two pins, one in the first round and one in the second, plus a 4-3 decision over Pocatello junior Emilia Archuleta that catapulted Thomas into the third-place match.
Barker (31-8) opened with a first-round pin, added 5-1 and 4-1 decisions in the consolation bracket, and ended his high school career with a 7-0 victory over Nampa senior Andrew Thomas that gave the durable Wolverine senior fifth place. He was sixth at state last year.
Wood River coach Shawn Huntington, whose seven Wolverine entrants logged a 10-14 record over three days at state, said, "Overall I was pleased with our effort at the tournament. I was hoping to get Kasey and Alex on the podium and they came through."
The Wolverines had some tough draws, in fact, four of the Hailey boys started their quests Thursday with opening-round losses to the eventual champions of their weight classes.
Freshman Cooper Bailey (31-9) was pinned at 112 pounds by junior Taylor Higbee of Pocatello (41-2). Sophomore Jared Anderson (18-21) was pinned by Columbia 119-pound soph Kam Reddish (39-8). Sophomore Tommy Bailey (30-16) was pinned by senior 140-pound Jesus Dozal of Columbia (41-6). Auden Ruhter (18-15) was pinned by Madison senior 215-pounder Brock Robison (36-6).
It was certainly a rough introduction to state for Cooper Bailey, in his first big meet. But Bailey won 12-7 and 6-0 decisions in the consolation bracket to finish with a 2-2 mark. Senior Tyler Bartlett (21-15) went two-and-out, also 112.
Tommy Bailey (1-2 state) captured a 9-1 decision over Bonneville junior Jon Mangum for Wood River's other win. Anderson and Ruhter also dropped both their matches.
One of five wrestlers who entered state with unbeaten records and won state championships was 145-pounder Todd Anderson of Twin Falls (37-0).
Columbia High School of Nampa won its third consecutive State 4A team championship with 293 points (24.5 points shy of Sandpoint's state record) and five individual champions.
In 5A, Coeur d'Alene captured its second straight team title 205-198.5 over 4A-bound Caldwell. Snake River of Moreland claimed its first State 3A title since 1999 by a 165-151.5 count over Bonners Ferry. Declo won its first State 2A championship since 1998 by a 36.5-point margin over defending champ and 13-time state winner North Fremont of Ashton.
Declo's win was only the second time in 34 years that a south-central Idaho team won the 2A crown. Indeed, eastern Idaho schools have won 64% of the state team titles since 1958.
Wood River's team banquet is set for Wednesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. in the high school commons area. Here are the results of WRHS state placers:
189 pounds—Barker (4-2) won 1:18 pin over Sasha Gradtke (Preston junior); lost 7-3 to eventual fourth-place Parker Buck (36-8), a Bonneville senior; won 5-1 over Hillcrest senior Brady Miner (40-13), won 4-1 over Columbia senior Blake Kendall; was pinned 2:18 by third-place Kuna junior Cory Calhoun (21-16); won 7-0 over Nampa senior Andrew Thomas (22-11).
285 pounds—Thomas (3-2) pinned 1:11 Skyview senior Justin Gibson; pinned 3:02 Bonneville junior Alan Rice; was pinned 0:42 by eventual champion Drake Peterson, a Rigby senior (49-1); won 4-3 over Pocatello junior Emilio Archuleta; was pinned 2:09 by third-place Layne Lasike, a Jerome junior (34-6).