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Coeur d’Alene repeats as 5A State wrestling champion

NAMPA, Idaho – There are no game-winning field goals in wrestling, no buzzer-beating jump shots nor walk-off home runs.

But on Saturday afternoon at the Idaho Center, Coeur d’Alene senior Caleb Davis got a chance to be the hero. As he and Caldwell senior Tim Hartwig took the mat for their 189-pound final, each knew what was at stake:

After more than 400 matches, the race for the 5A team championship had come down to this.

“I knew,” Davis said. “I was just trying to stay calm.”

Hartwig had the upper hand early, but Davis rallied for a second-round pin, setting off a wild Coeur d’Alene celebration.

“I don’t even know how it happened,” Davis said. “I just smelled blood in the water and went for it.”

Davis’ victory gave the Vikings 205 points, just enough to hold off Caldwell (198 1/2).

“It was too close for comfort, but you couldn’t ask for a more exciting finish,” said CdA coach Jeff Moffat. “I’ve never been more excited in my life, and it couldn’t have happened to a better kid than Caleb.”

Coeur d’Alene had 10 wrestlers earn medals, led by Davis and runners-up AJ Konda (103 pounds) and Johnny Peregrina (160).

“Just a great team effort,” Moffat said. “These kids wanted to repeat, and they came out here and earned it.”

Lewiston joined CdA on the 5A podium, earning the fourth-place trophy with 179 points. The Bengals were led by senior Casey George, who fought through a broken nose and pinned Post Falls sophomore Austin Wilson to cap a 45-0 season with his third state title.

George is the second Lewiston wrestler to win three titles, joining Bengals assistant coach Bob Maurer (1991-93).

“It’s an awesome way to end my high school career,” said George, who will wrestle at Boise State next season. “After losing last year, to have a perfect season and join one of my coaches as a three-time champ, I couldn’t ask for much more.”

Lewiston junior Josh Carlton (119) also won a title, punctuating an impressive 47-1 season.

“This is all I wanted,” Carlton said. “I finished third last year, and everything I’ve done all season has been to win state.”

Post Falls did not trophy despite having three individual champs – juniors James Ost (135), Tyler Booth (140) and Cole Jesienouski (171). Ost successfully defended his state title with a 5-2 victory over Highland’s Anthony Esplin.

“I think it feels better the second time,” Ost said. “It proves to everyone that you’re at the top of your game and that you’re the best there is at your weight.”

In 3A, Bonners Ferry (151 1/2 points) finished second, 13 1/2 points behind champion Snake River. The Badgers had eight wrestlers earn medals, led by senior champions Ben Watt (140) and Trevor Hampton (145).

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way our team worked together this season,” said Bonners Ferry coach Conrad Garner. “We fell a little short of first place, but these kids deserve a trophy, and they got one.”

Watt said he was happy to finish his career on top after winning a 3-2 decision over Buhl’s Michael McDonald. Hampton, who defended his title with a 9-4 win over Priest River’s Chris Pooley, said he plans to wrestle in college, but hasn’t decided where.

In 4A, Columbia cruised to its third consecutive team championship with five individual champions and 293 points. Declo won the 2A title with 169 points.