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POCATELLO ‚ÄĒ The states finest wrestlers descend upon Idaho State University's Holt Arena on Friday with each of them dreaming of glory and an individual state championship as they began the two day tournament.
Amid them were Bingham Counties best as Blackfoot, Snake River, Shelley, Firth and Aberdeen each sent a contingent into the fray. At days end, Bingham County had represented themselves quite well thank you as the five schools combined to send fifteen wrestlers into today's semifinals and in so doing, assuring themselves no worse than sixth place medals for their efforts.
All told, 30 Bingham County grapplers remain alive in the tournament with each of them eyeing medals as they enter this mornings competition.
In the 4A classification Blackfoot has 10 of their 13 state qualifiers remaining in the field, good enough for a fifth place placing in the team standings, and four of those will be squaring off in this mornings semifinal round looking for a berth in tonights thrilling finals.
"Overall I was very pleased with today's performance," Blackfoot head coach Thain Cashmore said. "We came into the tournament with 13 wrestlers and at the end of the day we wound up with 10 still in and that is a great accomplishment and even the ones that we lost, they battled extremely hard but wound up on the short end of the stick."
Tate Hansen (132), Tucker Leavitt (145), Ruben Pulido (152) and Connor Henderson (160) all advanced to the semifinals by picking up a pair of wins on Friday. Hansen advanced with a pair of decisions 7-0 in round one and then a hard fought 5-4 decision in the quarterfinals. Hansen will face off with the top seeded Jake Lords from Kuna.
Tucker Leavitt made his way into the semifinals by pinning his opening round foe and then blanking his quarterfinal opponent 6-0. Leavitt will also be facing a top seed in his semifinals match when he locks horns with Kurtis Loftis who also hails from Kuna.
Ruben Pulido worked his way into the semifinals with a pin and a 3-0 decision but unlike his Bronco brethren, he will not be facing a top seed in the semifinals as he is the top ranked 152 pounder in the 4A classification. He will square off with Kaleb Price from Canyon Ridge.
Closing out the Blackfoot foursome is Connor Henderson. Henderson major decisioned his first round foe 15-6 and then followed that up with a pin over the fourth seeded Kuna wrestler in the quarterfinals. Henderson will look to continue his roll when he faces off with the top seeded Garrett Grigsby who wrestles for Columbia.
"I think that all of those kids in the semifinals have a good opportunity," Coach Cashmore said. "They have some tough matches, going up against number one seeds but anything can happen and has happened so we will hopefully add to the flavor and mixture of state."
In the 3A ranks Snake River entered the day with 20 wrestlers toeing the line. By days end, 11 of those had been eliminated but of the nine that remain, five of those will tangle in the semifinals.
"We really had some kids that stepped up for us that really haven't typically been in the hunt which is keeping us in it," Snake River head coach Jeff Gardner said. "We had some disappointments from some of our more experienced kids. They came in and didn't have the kind of tournament that they or we anticipated them to have and that is unfortunate. We knew that coming in that when you come to this tournament anything can happen and you really have to take it one match at a a time. We lost some good kids that are out of the tournament and we will just have to bear down and keep wrestling."
Snake River has a semifinalist in each of the first four weight classes with Treyton Nilsson (98) picking up a pin and a 18-2 technical fall for his first days work. Jacob Frost also picked up a pin and a 13-2 major decision to advance into the 106 pound semifinals.
Two time defending state champion Skylerr Valentine pinned both of his opponents on Friday with the quarterfinal victory giving him his 158th career victory, breaking the record of 157 who was set by Shawn Jones.
Feeding off of the momentum Kaden Bench followed suit with a pin and then a 6-1 decision thereby punching his ticket into the semifinals at 120 pounds.
Rounding out the Panther contingent in the semi's was Cutler Howell at 152. Howell pinned Shelley's Josh Calderwood in the opening round and then followed that up with a huge upset when he pinned the top seeded Nic Arnold, who entered the tournament at 45-4, a little over a minute into the first quarter. At days end, Snake River stands in second place in the team standings, just 7.5 points behind Weiser.
"What a great performance from Cutler Howell. He's a sophomore, a JV kid who is now in the semi-finals and has an excellent shot at punching into the finals," Coach Gardner said. "It's going to have to take a real outstanding effort from everyone who are still in, the team title is still in reach but we are making it hard on ourselves."
Shelley's Chase Call continued his march towards the history books as he advanced to the semifinals With a pair of pins, the second of which came against Snake River's Wyatt Vogler in the quarterfinals. Shelley sits in 18th place.
In the 2A ranks Firth sits in sixth position while Aberdeen is in 15th after day one. Firth has 6 wrestlers remaining in the tournament with three of those in the semifinals. Layton Wasia at 132, Matt Lindberg at 170 and Luke Madsen at 195 all will be looking to punch their way through to tonights finals.
Aberdeen has two wrestlers remaining in play but both of them still have state title hopes alive as Austin Andersen (12) and Clancy Beck (145) both advanced to this mornings semifinal round.
Wrestling resumes this morning at 9 a.m. and will conclude this evening. The parade of athletes begin at 3:30 with the finals matches beginning immediately afterwards.