NAMPA, Idaho – Post Falls’ two-year championship run is over, but north Idaho wrestlers still brought home plenty of hardware Saturday at the 5A State tournament.
Columbia (276.5 points) ran away with the team title, but Post Falls finished runner-up and Coeur d’Alene took third place, with both schools earning two individual titles at the Ford Idaho Center.
Lake City also got onto the podium, with senior Rusty Dan breaking the Timberwolves’ 15-year state championship drought.
Post Falls led after Friday’s opening rounds, but the Trojans couldn’t withstand Columbia’s second-day surge. The Wildcats went 5 for 5 in the championship round, pulling away to win by 58.5 points.
“I’m proud of our kids, and that’s the bottom line,” Post Falls coach Pete Reardon said. “We had some kids wrestle lights-out, and we had some kids who had a bit of a letdown, as much for them as it was for the team. But we still love them, and we’ll come back and try again next year.”
Sophomore Ridge Lovett and junior Matt McLeod repeated as individual champions for the Trojans. Lovett remained undefeated for his high school career, dominating Hillcrest’s Derek Ramos for a 15-1 major decision in the 113-pound final. McLeod (126) also earned back-to-back titles, outlasting Borah’s Peter Huntsman 3-1 on a sudden-victory takedown in overtime.
“It was tough,” McLeod said. “It was a brutal match with a lot of good movement, but neither of us could score. But I knew (in overtime) that if I could just take him down once, I would win it at that point, so I went for it.”
Coeur d’Alene scored 152 team points to claim the third-place trophy. The Vikings were led by unbeaten senior Casey Randles, who punctuated his career with a third-round pin of Meridian’s Hayes Neukom to win the 182-pound title.
Randles, who will continue his career at the University of Wyoming, adds a 5A title to the two 4A crowns he won at Sandpoint. He hasn’t lost since his sophomore year.
“I felt like (the pin) was there for me, so I took the risk and it paid off,” Randles said. “I didn’t really think about winning three (championships) during the match, but after it was over, it hit me. It’s awesome.”
Randles was joined on the podium by 220-pound senior teammate Alex Marshall, who won a 9-0 major decision over Borah’s Benjamin Thomsen.
The most emotional celebration of the 5A finals went to Dan, who ended 15 years of Lake City frustration with a thunderous pin of Eagle’s Carson Hopp in the 195-pound final.
With time winding down in the first round, Dan seized an opening and threw Hopp onto his back for the victory.
“I was happy to be there and to have this opportunity,” Dan said. “It’s been a long time since Lake City had a state championship, so it’s an amazing experience to end that dry spell for my school.”
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