Fruitland qualified six wrestlers for the semifinals and two more are alive in the consolation bracket heading into the final day of competition at the Ford Idaho Center.
The Grizzlies (95) trailed leader Sugar-Salem (104) by nine points and were a half-point ahead of third-place Shelley (94.5).
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The Diggers and Russets each have 11 wrestlers remaining, but Sugar has a strong hold on first with eight wrestlers in the semifinals.
“I think we wrestled really well early in that first round or two,” Fruitland coach Isaac MacKenzie said. “But that last round kind of hurt us. We lost some kids that we needed to come through and place. That might come back to bite us, but we’re still right in there.”
Fruitland will need its six semifinalists — who won 11 of their 12 opening matches by pin — to advance to championships if the Grizzlies want to have any chance at overtaking Sugar-Salem.
“If our semifinal guys come through and do what they’re supposed to do to make it to the finals, I think we’re OK,” MacKenzie said.
RIRIE LEADS 2A, NEW PLYMOUTH IN THIRD
If New Plymouth hopes to match its program-best finish of second from 2015, the Pilgrims will need every point they can get Saturday.
Seven of New Plymouth’s 13 state qualifiers made it through the first day of competition, and five wrestled their way into the semifinals.
Two-time defending team champion Ririe held a comfortable lead with 119.5 points and 11 wrestlers still alive, including nine semifinalists.
The battle for second will likely be between New Plymouth and Challis. The Vikings sit in second with 75 points, and the Pilgrims are third with 70.
Both programs have five semifinalists and two consolation wrestlers.
“I think the next round is going to be absolutely crucial point-wise,” New Plymouth coach Caleb Campbell said. “We want to place as high as we can, and we want our guys to place as high as they can.
“I think if we wrestle well, we could have five in the finals.”
New Plymouth freshman Brendan Rice, the No. 1 seed at 98 pounds, won both his matches by pin. Older brother Joe Rice — a two-time state champion — did the same at 126.
Freshman Nathaniel Nesbitt (106), junior Deveon Rodriguez (132) and junior Dallin Beus round out the Pilgrims’ semifinalists, who won eight of their 10 matches by pin Friday.