NAMPA, Idaho – The Coeur d’Alene wrestling team’s quest to repeat as 5A state champion got off to a solid start Thursday as 13 wrestlers advanced to the championship quarterfinals. But the Vikings’ path to the podium remains full of obstacles in a crowded title race at the Idaho Center.
Coeur d’Alene coach Jeff Moffat praised his team’s effort, but he knows the team title likely won’t be decided until Saturday’s state championship matches.
“It’s anybody’s tournament right now,” Moffat said. “I thought we wrestled really well today, but there’s a long way to go and it’s going to come down to whoever shows up and wrestles their best these next couple of days.”
Coeur d’Alene scored 53 points, good enough for a second-place tie with Inland Empire rival Lewiston. Centennial leads the 5A race with 65½ points, while Caldwell (45½), Mountain View (39½) and Highland (38½) all are in position to contend for a trophy.
CdA seniors Kenny Staub (140 pounds) and Johnny Peregrina (160) – both of whom were state runners-up last year – earned victories. Senior Caleb Davis, who placed fourth last year, was impressive in his 189-pound match, pinning Torrey Rinehart of Skyline in 1 minute, 8 seconds. Under-the-radar senior Shaun Duffy (215) turned some heads with a 56-second pin of Mountain View’s Collin McDonald. Duffy is competing in his first state tournament after sitting out his first three because of knee injuries.
“It was tough not wrestling for three years straight,” Duffy said. “I’m definitely glad I get to wrestle this year. People may not know much about me, but I’m excited to wrestle and we’ll see what happens.”
Lewiston also put 13 wrestlers into the quarterfinals. The Bengals are led by undefeated and top-seeded senior Casey George (145), who is looking to win his third state championship after losing the title match a year ago. George pinned his opponent, Caldwell’s Hayden Maggard, in 2:36. Lewiston’s other No. 1 seed, 119-pound junior Josh Carlton, won by 10-3 decision over Laziah Vasques of Idaho Falls.
Lewiston coach Dan Maurer likes what he’s seeing out of his team.
“We did exactly what we expected to do,” Maurer said. “Our top-seeded guys won and the kids who lost did well in the consolation round. We know it’s going to be a really tight race at the top, so we are wrestling hard and trying to get as many bonus points as we can so we can take home that title.”
Two-time defending 4A champion Columbia scored 61½ points, good enough for an 11-point lead over Blackfoot.
Weiser (42 points) tops the 3A standings, but third-place Bonners Ferry is only 7½ points back.