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Idaho state wrestling tourney full of surprises

Panhandle squads especially hit by upsets

Mitch Worthington Special to The Spokesman-Review

POCATELLO – Playing the favorite wasn’t necessarily a good thing Saturday.

An undefeated record? Toss that out the window, too.

Upsets and surprises were the order of the day Saturday at the Idaho State High School Wrestling Tournament, especially where the Panhandle squads were concerned.

Three No. 1 seeds from North Idaho were upset in the championship round, and two other top seeds – including one defending state champion – fell victim to upsets in the semifinal round.

There was some good news however, all of it at the lower weights. Post Falls’ Chad Booth (103 pounds), Lewiston’s Casey George (119) and CdA’s Braden Mowry (125) all won their respective weight classes at the 5A level, and Lakeland’s Kyle McCrite (125) and Garret Belgarde (Moscow) captured golds at the 4A level.

In team competition, Lewiston snagged the fourth-place trophy by scoring 151 points, just 16.5 behind team champion Idaho Falls. Coeur d’Alene placed nine wrestlers in the top six and placed fifth as a team, with Post Falls right behind the Vikings in sixth place.

“We had a first, two thirds, five fifths and a sixth, and we’re going to be left with nothing (as a team),” Coeur d’Alene coach Jeff Moffat said. “That’s what happens when you have such a poor semifinal round. … They’re young – but nine placers, that’s more than we’ve ever placed at state.”

Priest River also reeled in a fourth-place trophy, scoring 113 points, more than 80 points behind runaway winner American Falls. Even Lakeland, which didn’t bring many wrestlers to the state tournament, was in the hunt, finishing in fifth place.

But individual North Idaho wrestlers will bring home far fewer gold medals than expected.

Among the 5A upset victims were top seeds Tracey Huffman of Lewiston (135) and Cole Amende of Post Falls (215). Huffman lost to Twin Falls’ Will Keeter via a 4-3 decision, and Amende dropped a 4-2 bout to Caldwell’s James Eavenson.

CdA lost top seed Andrew Palmer in the championship semifinals. Palmer fell to fourth-seeded freshman Brennan Bell from Highland, but wrestled back to capture the bronze medal.

Perhaps the most disappointing defeat was Amende’s, as it was Post Falls coach Dennis Amende’s final match as a coach. Amende, Cole’s father, is stepping down after 18 years.

“I’m disappointed for Cole, but he’s had a great career,” the elder Amende said. “I’ve had a great career.”

4A: McCrite won his second straight 125-pound title at the 4A level, coasting to a 20-6 major decision over Bonneville’s Taylor Bird.

“I tried to pin him a couple times, but he kept squirming,” McCrite said. “I got him on his back but he kept being too quick for the pin.”

Belgarde was never seriously tested, earning his first three wins at the tournament in less than a minute each. He beat Nampa’s David Tovar with a pinfall at 1:52.

That was it for the good news, however. Undefeated at 40-0 coming into the tournament, Brandon Richardson (140) from Lakeland fell victim to his first takedown all year, dropping a 4-3 decision to Minico’s Jake Hruza. Second-seeded Triston Storrs, also from Lakeland, also dropped a 4-2 decision to Blackfoot’s Gerald Cervantes in the 135-pound championship.

3A: Defending state champion Dayne Swisher (140, Bonners Ferry) fell victim to an upset in the semifinals, losing a 6-4 decision to American Falls’ Kody Laggis, and wound up fourth.

Priest River’s Wayde Rabidue, the top seed at 145 pounds, coasted through the first three rounds with easy pinfalls but was himself pinned in the finals, losing to undefeated Gooding freshman Brandon McBride in the finals in just 1:15.

And Timberlake’s Dylan White, the top seed at 285, also tasted defeat for the time, falling to 24-1 with a 3-2 loss to Fruitland’s Jessie Aguilar in the championship match.

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