NAMPA, Idaho – Post Falls’ bid for a third consecutive 5A State championship is alive and well, although it doesn’t appear the Trojans will run away with the title this year.
Post Falls put 10 wrestlers into the semifinals Friday, setting the stage for a potential third consecutive title on Saturday afternoon. The Trojans (122 points) lead rival Columbia by two points after an action-packed opening day at the Ford Idaho Center.
“So far, so good, but it’s far from over,” Post Falls coach Pete Reardon said. “We’ve just got to keep battling. We had a couple of bad upsets today, but we also had a couple kids come through who weren’t expected to win.”
Coeur d’Alene ranks third in the team race, with five wrestlers in the semifinals. Undefeated CdA senior Casey Randles will be one of several north Idaho athletes looking to defend his title on Saturday.
Depth carried Post Falls to the top of the leaderboard, despite a few hiccups along the way.
Defending state champions Ridge Lovett (113 pounds) and Matt McLeod (126) are among nine Post Falls wrestlers still in the title hunt. Lovett, who has never lost a high school match, pinned both of his opponents. The sophomore will face teammate Jordan Grimm in the semis.
“I’m just going to continue pushing the pace and wrestling my matches,” Lovett said. “(Being undefeated) is a credit to my coaches, my dad, my practice partners – and it takes a lot of hard work.”
McLeod also cruised into the semis, but he knows the sledding will be tougher Saturday.
“I think there’s three (former) state champs in my bracket this year, so it’s a challenge,” McLeod said. “Whoever has the best day is going to take it.”
Braxton Mason (98), AJ Delarosa (120), Mathias Delarosa (132), Tyler Morris (145) Braydon Huber (145) and Brad Noesen (220) also made the semis for the Trojans.
“It takes depth,” Reardon said. “You can’t win this tournament with five or six kids – you need 12 or 13 placers, so that’s what we are hoping for.”
Post Falls freshman Brelane Huber made history by winning her first two matches in the 98-pound bracket – becoming Idaho’s first female wrestler to do so – but she was disqualified from the semis for missing weight Friday night.
CdA (81 points) had a solid first day, led by 182-pound standout Casey Randles. The top-seeded senior hasn’t lost since his sophomore year, and he’s looking to cap his career with a 5A title after winning back-to-back 4A championships at Sandpoint.
“I don’t put my focus on winning. I put my focus on having fun and giving as much effort as I possibly can,” Randles said. “It’s incredible just to win one state title. To win three, it would be a great way to end it.”
Dom Jessos (98), Hunter Schueller (106), Isaiah Skinner (170), and Alex Marshall (220) also made the semis for the Vikings. Jessos advances to the championship because of Huber’s forfeit.
Lake City sent Griffin Schoch (160) and Rusty Dan (195) to the semifinals.
Led by two defending state champions and a fearsome foursome of Edelblutes, Lakeland is in position to compete for a team trophy. Alex Edelblute (98), Sam Edelblute (106), William Edelblute (113) and Brian Edelblute (126) were among six wrestlers to make the semis for the Hawks, who rank fourth in the team race with 82 points. Top-seeded defending champs Larry Johnson (138) and Jared Walker (195) also advanced.
“We’ve been working so hard all season, and I feel really good about this tournament,” Brian Edelblute said. “We’re going to be rooting for each other like crazy because last year, Willy, Sam and I all made the finals, and we all lost. This year, it’s going to be different.”
Sandpoint put Andrew Webster (170) Owen Stebbin (182) into the semifinals.
Minico (133) and two-time defending champion Caldwell (126.5) are locked in a battle for the team title.
The team race is tight at the top, with Sugar-Salem (104) leading Fruitland (95), Shelley (94.5) and two-time defending state champion Snake River (80).
Priest River has four wrestlers in the semifinals, led by top-seeded senior Noah Jamison at 160. He’s joined by teammates Riley Dement (132), Spencer MacDonald (152) and Samuel Hernandez (285).
Other local semifinalists include Kellogg’s Taylor Bus (98 pounds) and Tanner Figueroa (145); Bonners Ferry’s Jesse Sandelin (160) and Matt Varelman (195); and Timberlake’s Brayden Herbert (98) and Isaiah Evans (106).
In 2A, St. Maries senior Dylan Edwards remains unbeaten in his quest for the 152-pound title. Two-time defending state champion Ririe leads the team race with 119.5 points, 44.5 clear of second-place Challis.