There’s a distinct possibility that North Idaho 5A wrestling teams could finish first and second at the state tournament this weekend.
No. 1 ranked most of the season, the Coeur d’Alene Vikings are favored to capture their first state championship when the 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A state tournaments begin Friday and conclude Saturday at Idaho State University’s Holt Arena.
Right on the Vikings’ heels, though, are the second-ranked Post Falls Trojans.
CdA qualified 17 and 11 are seeded fifth or better. No team has more first or second seeds than the Vikings. Post Falls advanced 14 to state and 10 are seeded in the top six.
“I hate to make any predictions, but we’ve got as good a shot as anybody,” CdA coach Jeff Moffat said.
While Moffat is understandably hesitant to talk about the possibilities, Lewiston coach Dan Maurer isn’t.
“I don’t want to jinx (CdA) but I’m a realist,” Maurer said. “The reality is he (Moffat) has the best team in the state. His kids are savvy and they have a little bit of a swagger. They work hard. I think they’ve got it.”
Post Falls coach Pete Reardon likes his team’s chance.
“Coeur d’Alene is definitely the favorite, no doubt about it with their high seeds,” Reardon said. “But a lot of crazy stuff happens in the state tournament. We feel like if we go and do what we’re capable of, we’ll be in the hunt for a trophy and maybe the biggest trophy they give out down there.”
The other team in the mix is Highland, which finished runner-up last year and qualified 22. Highland has more numbers but not the quality seeds to match CdA and Post Falls.
CdA is led by two-time state champ Braden Mowry, a senior who won at 125 pounds last year. Mowry (35-6) is seeded second at 135 where a potential final would pit him against another defending state champ and rival, Casey George of Lewiston (40-1).
Three of Mowry’s losses this year were to George, and their closest match came in the Region I final where George prevailed 1-0.
Moffat believes he has as many as six potential state finalists if not champs. In addition to Mowry they are Sam Howard (125, 36-8, second seed); Kenny Staub (130, 37-7, first); Christian Putman (145, 7-1, second); Colin Comack (152, 27-7, second); and Kevin Moore (171, 41-4, first).
Post Falls is led by defending state champ Chad Booth (14-1), a senior who won at 103 last year and is seeded first at 112. Other possible finalists are James Ost (125, 29-4, third); Derrick Booth (130, 36-10, fourth); and Nathan McLeod (140, 36-5, second).
“It could be a really special weekend for the north,” Reardon said.
Last year, the Viks positioned themselves to capture a state title going into the semifinals. But two favored Viks were upset. It turned out to be about a 30-point swing.
CdA went from contending for the title to finishing just out of a trophy at fifth.
Moffat chalks it up to a lesson learned.
“We’ve got to go down there with a chip on our shoulder and act like nobody thinks we can do it and do it,” Moffat said. “If we wrestle to our seeds we’ll do fine.”