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For the week of February 28 through March 6, 2001

Sweet victory for Goicoechea in state final

Wood River senior (39-1) earns second state title

Express Staff Writer

Always an honor roll student, Wood River High School senior Cory Goicoechea, 18, of Bellevue is an uncomplicated young man.

A familiar sight—Cory Goicoechea pinning an opponent (a school-record 97 times) and the Wolverine cheerleaders rising to celebrate his win. Goicoechea completes his second-round pin of Gooding’s Matt Rigby in Cory’s last home match, on "Senior Night" in Hailey Feb. 9. Two weeks later Cory was a state champion for the second time. Check the picture of Cory and his mom and dad in next week’s Local Life. Express photo by David N. Seelig

He’s intelligent, respectful of his elders and God-fearing. The youngest of three children, he loves his family.

Always an athlete, Cory is very competitive. Just try, if you’re a coach, to keep Cory on the bench. Nearly impossible. As Wood River’s quarterback, he limped through the 2000 football season on a bum ankle and carried the Wolverines into the state playoffs.

The second son of Tom and Annette Goicoechea is determined and focused. And Cory loves to hunt. The morning after a football game, when his sore teammates are sleeping in, Cory is usually up at dawn, hunting with his dad.

Always a wrestler, Cory was hunting a state championship all winter.

He was stalking an elusive Panhandle species named Plato—Bonners Ferry senior John Plato, who stalled and stalled and beat Cory 2-1 in the State A-2 171-pound championship match last February in Pocatello.

He’s always sportsmanlike, but you can definitely tell when Cory is unhappy about something. He stewed and stewed about losing to Plato for an entire year. His dream was to meet Plato again, both as seniors, for a state title.

The hunt for redemption ended successfully Saturday on the same Pocatello mat.

Goicoechea won his second State A-2 championship in three years with a resounding 12-2 major decision over Plato in the 171-pound final match.

"It was a pretty good way to end his high school career," said his proud father and Wood River coach Tom Goicoechea, with some understatement.

For Cory it was a fitting finale to a remarkable 39-1 season and a 135-17 four-year varsity career, both school standards that may well stand the test of time.

Before last year’s loss to Plato, Cory had won 56 straight matches. The school record-holder with 97 career pins, he ended his senior season with 36 straight match wins.

Put it this way.

Only two takedowns stood between Goicoechea and winning 97 consecutive matches from his sophomore through senior seasons.

The first takedown in question was the one Cory could never pull off against Plato in last year’s state finale.

The other takedown was a controversial one by Pocatello’s Morgan Knickrehm, whose last-second two-pointer beat Goicoechea 3-1 in the 171-pound finale of the Bear Cat Invitational Dec. 16 in Jerome. Knickrehm went on to capture the State A-1 Division 1 mat championship at 171 Saturday.

Because of those two losses, Goicoechea was seeded only third in his class at the 2001 state meet—where seven of the 14 classes were won by top-seeded wrestlers.

That’s like saying Pedro Martinez is your number-three pitcher.

The top seed was Plato, of course. And the second seed was Preston senior Andy Lyon, who had beaten Knickrehm during the season. The third seed, like he needed any more motivation, was Goicoechea.

Coach Goicoechea was worried about Cory’s first match against American Falls senior Andrew Porath.

He said, "Cory had two real close matches against Porath this year, and in a third match Cory beat him good. I was a little concerned. Porath just hangs on and hangs on.

"Cory threw him with a head and arm and pinned him," said the coach about the fall, accomplished in 70 seconds.

Next up was Jordan Peterson, a strong, well-built senior from Sugar-Salem. Cory pinned him at 1:55 with a standing cradle—his 28th pin of the season, breaking his own record of 27 pins last year.

Goicoechea met Lyon (42-1) in the semi-final. "Lyon was real good on his feet. He was beating a lot of people on takedowns," said coach Goicoechea. "But I felt confident because Cory doesn’t get taken down very often."

The final score was 5-1. Cory took down Lyon at the end of the first period, added an easy escape and took him down again in the third round. "It was a good match. Lyon is a good wrestler," the coach said.

Of course, father and son had been keeping a close eye on Plato, who had beaten Weiser senior Mark Current 3-0 in the other semi-final match. "Plato looked tough. He dominated his first two matches. But we saw some things we thought we could use," the coach said.

Cory was ready to roll.

"He had spent a lot of time thinking about it for a year," said his dad. "I saw he was real confident, not nervous at all, relaxed before the final. Last year there was so much pressure with Cory’s 56-match win streak. And he was a little sick. This year, he felt good."

Plato’s strategy was stalling last February, but "Cory didn’t give him a chance to stall," this time, the coach said.

"Cory took shots right off the bat. He took him down right away, but Plato reversed him near the end of the first round and it was 2-2. Then Plato started coming in.

"That was a mistake.

"Cory got him in a head and arm and got back points. He got him in a cradle and got more back points. He kind of dominated after that."

The 12-2 triumph was an emotional moment, the fulfillment of a long-held dream, the end of one hunt for a father and son who tend to be emotional about such things.

"It was sweet," said coach Goicoechea.


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