Hudson Staub knows what to expect when he walks into the Idaho Center Friday and Saturday for the Idaho State wrestling tournament in Nampa.
Even though the Coeur d’Alene 125-pounder is a freshman, he is no stranger to the state wrestling tournament, or the atmosphere it brings.
For the past three years, Staub has had a perfect example to learn from – his older brother.
Kenny Staub, a senior for the Vikings, has advanced to the state tournament all four of his years at CdA, and for the first three, younger brother Hudson was a keen observer.
“I’ve gone to watch my brother at state every year,” said Hudson, who has a first-round matchup with Caldwell’s Matt Tallabas. “Now I feel like I kind of know what to expect. I’ve been preparing every year for this. My goal has always been to place at state as a freshman and I feel like I have a good chance.”
Staub has plenty of confidence going into the state tournament, winning one of four regional titles for the defending state champion Vikings last weekend in Rathdrum.
Wrestling against Lewiston’s Drew Randall in the regional title match, Staub got out to a quick start, winning a 9-4 decision to advance as the top wrestler from the region.
“Even though he’s a freshman, he’s been one of our most consistent wrestlers,” CdA coach Jeff Moffatt said. “He has gotten lots of experience this year and really has been consistent for us all season.”
Taking part in the growing process for Staub has been his workout partner, Kyle Siegwarth. Siegwarth, a senior for the Vikings, helped ready Staub for his grueling first year in CdA wrestling, Moffatt said.
“It has been a great experience. He’s been what has made me good,” Staub added of Siegwarth. “I started out strong and working out with him is a reason why. When you wrestle with a senior every day, it makes you wrestle like a senior.”
Even as only a freshman, the Vikings are hoping Staub can continue to wrestle beyond his years as they attempt to defend last year’s state title. Along with Hudson and Kenny Staub, 13 other Vikings will try and make it a two-year reign atop the 5A state field.
After struggling to close out a second consecutive regional championship, Moffatt is hoping their loss to Lewiston will help light a fire under the Vikings.
“We’re not panicking right now,” Moffatt said. “We didn’t wrestle our best (at regionals), but the good thing was it wasn’t state weekend. We’ve been there before and we know what to expect when we get there.”
While the Vikings are aiming at a second consecutive title, the Bonners Ferry Badgers are hoping a larger group going to state will help them dethrone American Falls for the 3A state championship.
Led by a school-best eight regional champions, the Badgers pushed 16 wrestlers to Nampa for the state tournament.
It’s a diverse group with six seniors, six underclassmen and a mix of experience at the state level that will battle four teams for state supremacy, coach Conrad Garrett said.
American Falls, Sugar-Salem, Fruitland and Bonners Ferry will each place 16 wrestlers into the field making this weekend a toss-up for which team could come out on top.
Trevor Hampton will be the only Badgers wrestler going in as the No. 1 seed at the 145-pound weight class. Teammate Ben Watt will be the No. 2 at 140.
Region I will also be well-represented at the 4A level as 28 wrestlers from Lakeland, Sandpoint and Moscow each made the field.
Sandpoint senior Garrett Belgarde and his 28-4 record will be put to the test as he enters the 119-pound bracket as the top seed. He is the lone wrestler from the region with the No. 1 seed.