Panthers qualify 15 for state

THOMAS — The Snake River Panthers will be well represented at next weekends State Tournament in Nampa. On Thursday, Snake River qualified 15 grapplers to the state tournament, of which 5 will enter the event as the fifth district champions, as they finished a close second to American Falls 211-196 in the district tournament.
"We were nipping right at American Falls heels and for the kids that I had here, I really thought that we couldn't have wrestled much better," Snake River head coach Jeff Gardner said. "I circled them up before we started and told them that we needed some kids to be gamers, step up and get some upsets and we had some huge ones. Mark Bell beat a tough, tough kid and several of our kids knocked off kids that had beaten them earlier in the year."
The Panthers took the top two spots in three different weight divisions beginning with 103 where Kaden Bench earned a third period pin over his team mate Jake Frost.
At 112, Skyller Valentine and Tony Castaneda were poised to square off for the title but an injury to Castaneda placed him second and Valentine first with the injury default.
At 125 Diego Meraz was hunting for a district title but an early mistake costed him, as Kasey West of American Falls capitalized with the pin in the first period.
Snake River qualified a 130 grappler to the state tournament when Colton Coles scored a dramatic third period pin over his Marsh Valley foe. Coles was behind on the scoreboard when he accomplished the feat.
Cash Cardona at 135 never trailed in his third place match, eventually punching his ticket to Nampa with a pin in the second period.
At 140, a pair of Panthers squared off against each other for the third time of the night, this time Brayden Beard was able to earn a 10-2 win over Mark Bell for the top spot on the podium.
At 145, Jett Bingham was in for the fight of his life with Braden Roberts of Bear Lake. After three, very hard fought rounds, Bingham prevailed 8-6 for a third place finish and a spot on the bus for the trip to state.
Jesse Vogler continued his recent dominance of the district with a 8-4 championship match win over Michael Cardona of American Falls while Carlos Molina earned a 12-3 win at 160 for a third place finish.
At 171 and 189, Snake River had a pair of grapplers finish in second place with Colter Carter and Jared Smith each falling to American Falls wrestlers.
Mike Duff capped the impressive day for the Panthers with a second period pin of Logan Bee at 215, garnering the final district championship for Snake River.
"We didn't quite beat American Falls but my kids wrestled really well and I'm proud of them," coach Gardner said. "Taking fifteen to state is the most that we've taken in a while. All these kids are the best supporting cast that we've had in a while. We expect our really tough kids to go down to state and do a lot of damage but we also have some kids that are coming that can win a lot of matches. We're hoping that we'll go down, have a little bit of magic left and if they perform like they did today, one more time, we will be all right."
The Panthers will make their way to state next Thursday for a tournament that will run through Saturday at the Idaho Center in Nampa.

Final team scores
1-American Falls 211
2-Snake River 196
3-Bear Lake 137.5
4-Marsh Valley 108

State qualifiers by weight
1-Kaden Bench (SR)
2-Jake Frost (SR)
3-Jeff Nielson (MV)

1-Skyler Valentine (SR)
2-Tony Castaneda (SR)
3-Bo Hohenfield (AF)

1-Shathen DeLaCruz (AF)
2-Luke Sherburne (AF)
3-Dalton Christensen (MV)

1-Kasey West (AF)
2-Diego Meraz (SR)
3-Kylan Romrell (BL)

1-Jesus Uribe (AF)
2-Riley Lloyd (BL)
3-Colton Coles (SR)

1-Jacob Tillotson (BL)
2-Kolton Qualls (AF)
3-Cash Cardona (SR)

1-Brayden Beard (SR)
2-Mark Bell (SR)
3-Tyson Burgemeister (AF)

1-Luke Lish (MV)
2-Julian Gallegos (AF)
3-Jett Bingham (SR)

1-Jesse Vogler (SR)
2-Michael Cardona (AF)
3-Phillip Hansen (MV)

1-Eddie Reyes (AF)
2-Brayden Millward (MV)
3-Carlos Molina (SR)

1-Travis Williams (AF)
2-Colter Carter (SR)
3-Garret Hyde (BL)

1-V.J. Giulio (AF)
2-Jared Smith (SR)
3-Seth Roberts (BL)

1-Mike Duff (SR)
2-Logan Bee (BL)
3-Spencer Bates (MV)

1-Denny Humphries (MV)
2-Diego Cerna (AF)
3-Jacob Hanover (BL)