Holt Arena in Pocatello erupted last year, and all Mountain Home wrestler Pierce Mederios could do was wait.
In the 4A 113-pound state championship match, Minico’s Eddie Daniel backflipped out of Mederios’ hold at the overtime buzzer. Officials met for 15 minutes to determine the backflip’s legality as cheers and boos rained down from the stands.
High school wrestlers cannot initiate a backflip, but the officials ruled Mederios’ leg sweep started Daniel’s flip, allowing Daniel to escape with the come-from-behind title and robbing Mederios of his third straight state championship.
That controversial loss hasn’t derailed Mederios, who returns to the state tournament Friday at the Ford Idaho Center as the top seed and favorite at 113 pounds. And while the loss was tough to swallow, Mederios (45-1) said he’s moved on and learned from it.
“Not everything is going to go your way,” the senior said. “You really have to push through those things. There’s nothing I could do about it now, or nothing I could do about it after. Later on in life, I’ll look back and see, even though it sucked then, it will be good later on.”
Scott Mederios, Pierce’s father and Mountain Home’s head coach, said community members brought out up the controversy everywhere the family went for months. But as the offseason wore on and the referee admitted his mistake, Scott Mederios said his son loosened up.
He always told his son if he put in the work, he’d get the results. Mederios took his word for it, transforming himself into the hardest worker in the program. The controversial call provided another lesson, though, showing he can’t control every outcome.
The result is a looser, freer Mederios slicing through the competition this winter.
“It wasn’t, ‘I should have wrestled better.’ It was, ‘It’s out of my hands,’” Scott Mederios said.
“That’s tougher than just getting whooped. He lost one match this year, and he got outwrestled. It was, ‘OK, here’s how we fix it.’ Last year, as a dad, I don’t have a fix for that.”
Mederios said he doesn’t hold any grudges from last year and has instead turned his focus on this season, where a state title this weekend would make him the eighth wrestler in Idaho 4A history, and the first at Mountain Home, to win three state titles.
“That would mean the world to me,” said Mederios, who will wrestle on scholarship next season for North Idaho College. “My goal was always to be a four-time state champ. As soon as that one got taken from me last year, I said, ‘Ok, now my goal is three.’”
Scott Mederios said as long as his son forces opponents to wrestle his kind of match, another state championship is within his control, not a referee’s.
“If he makes everything a takedown competition, he’ll end up right where he wants to be,” Scott Mederios said. “If he’s on his feet, he’s given up less than 10 takedowns in the four years he’s been here.”
▪ What: 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A state tournaments
▪ Where: Ford Idaho Center, Nampa
▪ Friday schedule: 3A & 2A begins at 9 a.m.; 5A & 4A begins at 2:30 p.m.
▪ Saturday schedule: Semifinals begin at 9 a.m.; placing matches at 12:30 p.m.; finals at 3:30 p.m.