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For the week of February 27 - March 5, 2002


Conover wins state wrestling at 135

Gives Wood River its tenth state title

The Conover freight train pulled in and pulled off a rare state championship Saturday.

Wood River High School junior Matt Conover rode and rode his purple-haired Kellogg opponent for nearly an entire round, then Matt used a double-leg takedown to win his first State 3A prep wrestling title.

Conover, nearly pinned early and trailing 7-3 after one round, battled back and beat top-seeded Kellogg senior Alan Plank 9-7 in overtime of the 135-pound championship match.

Wood River coach Danny Turner said, "It was a great shot—a patented Conover freight-train double leg takedown. Real exciting."

Conover (28-3, 71-32 career) won four matches during the three-day, 45th annual Idaho State 3A Wrestling Championships to give Wood River the tenth state wrestling title in the school’s mat history.

Meanwhile, Wood River senior Brian Squires (37-9, 100-25 career) wrapped up fourth place in the 152-pound class with four pins. Squires finished the season with 30 pins.

It was a good state meet.

Strong in the upper weights, Sugar-Salem (230.5 points) improved from second place last year and won its ninth state wrestling title by nearly 100 points over Snake River (135). The Diggers had three first places and two seconds.

Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference king Declo (100 points) was fourth of 27 schools—leading a parade of four SCIC teams into the top ten. Gooding was fifth, Buhl seventh and Kimberly 10th. Wood River (46) placed 19th.

Besides Conover, the SCIC produced three winners, all top seeds. In fact, 10 top-seeded wrestlers prevailed in the 14 3A classes, with Conover becoming one of only three #2-seeded matmen to take gold.

They were Declo’s #1-seeded 103-pounder John Clark (40-0), who snapped off four pins in five minutes of mat time; Gooding’s #1-seeded junior Travis Stone (31-1) at 125; and top-seeded Declo senior Ian Webb (34-5), four pins at 171.


State summary

135 pounds: Second-seeded Conover started his third state meet with 6-3 and 12-5 decisions over Teton junior Clint Allen and Timberlake senior Mark Barnhouse.

"Matt’s first match was a lot closer than the 6-3 score showed," said Turner.

In the semi-finals, Conover was awarded a caution point that provided him with a 4-3 victory over South Fremont senior Greg Packer (25-9), the eventual fourth-place wrestler.

Three false starts led to a tough defeat for Packer.

Turner said, "It was crazy. Right off the bat the Packer kid got his first caution after he faked a shot without the ref starting the match in the first round. Then Packer got his second caution, starting too early while on top of Matt.

"It was scoreless in the first. Matt likes to stay away and Packer had a similar style.

"Matt got an escape and takedown to lead 3-2 going into the third, then Packer escaped for a 3-3 tie. We were totally content with a tie and wrestling into overtime, in fact, I told Matt to circle around in the final seconds of the third.

"But with just three seconds left Packer faked a shot before the ref blew his whistle, which was his third caution and that meant a point for Matt."

Conover’s championship opponent Plank was a leg rider, Turner said, but the coach convinced Matt to stay with what brought him to the final.

"Don’t change anything now," Turner said.

Conover led 3-2 with the first takedown and an escape, then he survived a scary moment when Plank took him down and put Conover on his back. "Matt scrambled and scrambled and got out of the first round behind 7-3," Turner said.

Slowly but surely Conover battled back, taking Plank down twice and tying it 7-7.

"The Kellogg kid took down for the third, and I asked Matt if he wanted to let him get up and give up a point. Matt said no, he wanted to ride him out. It’s hard to ride a kid for two minutes—they give you a point for doing that in college—but Matt just gutted it out.

"In overtime Matt took a great shot early, but his toe was on the line, out-of-bounds. Then they got back in the middle of the mat and he just drives in on the kid for the winning points."

Conover had placed sixth at state at 112 pounds in 2000 but he exited early with two wins and two losses at 119 in 2001.

152 pounds: Three-time district champion Squires stumbled only twice at state—the first time to the eventual state champion, the second time to the top-seeded wrestler.

Bonners Ferry senior Mike Gross (31-4), the only unseeded wrestler to win a 3A title Saturday, outwrestled Squires 19-6 and then won a pair of thrilling one-point decisions, 3-2 over #1-seeded Andy Gerber of Snake River and 8-7 in double OT over #3 Dallan Wilding of Sugar-Salem.

Squires had beaten Gross 12-6 for third place at 140 in 2001.

"This year Gross was much stronger, a great wrestler on his feet," Turner said. "Brian just couldn’t take him down, which meant we had to go to a tactic we didn’t want to use, the throw. Gross just dominated, with eight takedowns."

Highlight of state for #4-seeded Squires, who pinned three opponents in the first round, was his 2:24 pin of Marsh Valley senior Jake Burmester (33-4) in the consolation semi-finals.

Second-seeded Burmester had nipped Squires twice this season, at Challis and Gooding. At state after a scoreless first round, however, Squires escaped, took down Burmester, cradled him up and pinned.

"What a time for Brian to step up and get into the medal round!" said Turner.

After beating Burmester, Squires lost 7-2 to Snake River junior Gerber (32-10) in the third-place match. "Gerber just beat us on our feet," Turner said. "But Brian had a successful career and a great year. He’s one of the better Wood River wrestlers ever."

The other two Wood River wrestlers at Nampa were:

130 pounds: Sophomore Chris Vert (15-20) opened up his first state meet with a third-round pin of Bonners Ferry sophomore Will Winn—and then Chris ran into a couple of tough cookies.

Vert fell in a second-round pin to eventual state runner-up Jed Crittenden (22-5), a South Fremont sophomore who now has a pair of state silver medal finishes. Declo senior Tyler Dschaak (25-8) decisioned Vert 18-5 en route to sixth place in the 130-pound class.

Turner said, "Chris got a second chance, getting into state as the fourth place wrestler and then winning a match at state. That’s quite an accomplishment."

171 pounds: Junior Casey Markwell (9-23) lost his two matches in his first state meet. "Casey had a good season and now knows what it’s like to be at state," said Turner.

Wrestlers from 95 Idaho schools competed. In other divisions:

Skyline of Idaho Falls (199.5 points) captured its first state title since 1982 over Centennial (167) in 5A; Sandpoint (292) won its second straight 4A title and fifth overall;

And Challis (259 points) cleaned up in 2A, earning the school’s first-ever state banner by over 100 points over Malad (146.5) and three-time defending champ North Fremont (141.5). North Fremont had won seven championships in nine years.


Wood River state champs

2002—Matt Conover, 135

2001—Cory Goicoechea, 171

1999—Cory Goicoechea, 152

1990—John Pascoe, 130

1983—Don Davies, 188

1983—Rob Miller, 158

1977—John Shay, 155

1974—Rocky Sherbine, 112

1973—Rocky Sherbine, 98

1967—Carson Duffy, 167


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.