Varsity Extra

A title worthy of a backflip. Fruitland wrestler captures the only crown to elude him

After finishing fifth as a freshman and third as a sophomore, Fruitland junior Jonathon Fagen, left, broke through to win the 182-pound title at the Rollie Lane Invitational on Saturday at Nampa’s Ford Idaho Center. Fagen beat Preston’s Ben Seamons with an 8-3 decision.
After finishing fifth as a freshman and third as a sophomore, Fruitland junior Jonathon Fagen, left, broke through to win the 182-pound title at the Rollie Lane Invitational on Saturday at Nampa’s Ford Idaho Center. Fagen beat Preston’s Ben Seamons with an 8-3 decision.

The old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do,” holds true in the Fagen household. But Jonathon Fagen couldn’t help himself.

His father, John Fagen, used to celebrate big victories and pins when he coached the Fruitland High wrestling team with a post match backflip. So when Jonathon won his first Rollie Lane Invitational title Saturday at Nampa’s Ford Idaho Center, he strolled up to John and proved he’s not the only one in the family capable of acrobatics.

“He doesn’t like me being cocky like that,” Fagen said with a smile. “But emotion came over me, and I hit it. He’s not disappointed at all.”

Fagen scored an 8-3 decision in the 182-pound final over Preston’s Ben Seamons, a reigning 4A state champ, to capture the only tournament title that’s eluded him so far. Fagen won every tournament he entered last year, including a Cadet Greco-Roman national championship, except Rollie Lane.

He finished third at one of the Northwest’s premier tournaments as a sophomore and fifth as a freshman. But the two-time state champ erased those memories with Saturday’s victory and celebratory backflip.

“I put it above state on my pedestal because after taking a couple losses here, it felt good to battle back and finally climb the mountain,” Fagen said.

Fagen admits football was his first love, and he’s drawn plenty of honors as part of the Grizzlies’ back-to-back state championship teams. The junior is a two-time, first-team 3A All-Idaho offensive lineman, and he earned first-team All-Idaho honors as a linebacker this fall too.

But after winning the 170-pound state title as a freshman, wrestling has taken over his life. Even during football season, he and grappling partner Jasson Gissel arrived at the school at 6 a.m. each day for a 90-minute workout before school.

Gissel fell in overtime during the 195-pound title match at Rollie Lane.

“He works harder than anybody in the room,” Fruitland coach Isaac MacKenzie said. “He puts a lot of time in in the offseason. This is paydirt for what he’s put forward the entire year.”

The national title has opened doors for Fagen at Division I programs across the country. None have extended an offer yet, but MacKenzie said six called on the first day of the recruiting period this season.

“He doesn’t get fazed by anything now,” MacKenzie said. “He’s a kid that is a gamer. He expects to win when he steps on the mat.”


Lakeland’s Larry Johnson edged Caldwell junior Christian Hudson for the state title last season. But Hudson took the rematch with a come-from-behind, 4-2 decision in the 145-pound championship at Rollie Lane.

Hudson, who’s finished third at Rollie Lane the past two years, trailed 2-1 after the first period. But a second-period escape and takedown gave him the lead, and he rode out the final period before letting out a rare bit of emotion when the final buzzer rang.

“Most of the time, you don’t see me really emotional after matches,” Hudson said. “But that one was special.”

Hudson (25-0) was also named the meet’s most outstanding upper weight wrestler.


Borah’s George Barrera finally captured that elusive major tournament title with a 3-1 decision over Gooding’s Jake McGinnis for the Rollie Lane heavyweight championship.

Barrera (22-1) finished third at district and state last season, and took third three weeks ago at the Reno Tournament of Champions. The largest tournament he’d previously won was the Red Halverson at Minico.

But the 6-6, 275-pound senior with football scholarship offers from Idaho State and Portland State shrugged off the title, saying the most nerve-wracking part was figuring out which camera to look at while standing atop the podium.

“I’m happy,” he said. “I got it, now on to the next one.”


Post Falls added another Rollie Lane title to its trophy case, winning the tournament for the fourth time in a row with 252.5 points, 38 points ahead of Oregon’s Crook County.

“It shows that we’re doing things the right way, reloading, reloading and reloading,” said Post Falls assistant coach Jeremy Zender, who took over the team while head coach Pete Reardon recovered from back surgery.

Ten Post Falls wrestlers placed and two won individual titles — Ridge Lovett (126 pounds) and Braydon Huber (160).

Lovett nearly lost his perfect career record when he was penalized for stalling, forcing overtime against Trent Baun of Colville, Washington. But the junior extended his career mark to 104-0 with a takedown at the overtime buzzer for his third straight Rollie Lane title.

Lovett was later named the meet’s most outstanding lower weight wrestler.

“That Colville kid is tough,” Zender said. “It just shows that Ridge has what it takes when it’s on the line.”

Columbia was the top Treasure Valley finisher at the tournament in third place at 151 points, 101.5 points behind Post Falls. Four Columbia wrestlers placed: Angel Rios (third, 132), Kekana Fouret (fourth, 145), Michael Cox (fifth, 195) and Skylar Hughes (fourth, 220).



At Ford Idaho Center, Nampa


1, Post Falls 252.5. 2, Crook County (Ore.) 214.5. 3, Columbia 151. 4, Lakeland 144.5. 5, Shelley 133.5. 6, Blackfoot 133. 7, Bonneville 132. 8, Arvada West (Colo.) 130. 9, Meridian 127. 10, Caldwell 123.

11, Pasco (Wash.) 120. 12, Kuna 113.5. 13, Colville (Wash.) 111. 14, Pocatello 106.5. 15, Centennial 99.5. 16, Fruitland 98. 17, La Grande (Ore.) 91.5. t-18, Borah 88. t-18, Rocky Mountain 88 20, Central Valley (Wash.) 86.

21, Couer d’Alene 84. 22, Lowry 78.5. 23, Twin Falls 74.5. 24, Churchill County (Nev.) 74. t-25, Baker/Powder Valley (Ore.) 68. t-25, Lewiston 68. 27, Skyview 67. 28, Eagle 65.5. t-29, Boise 63. t-29, Timberlake 63.

t-31, New Plymouth 62. t-31, Nyssa (Ore.) 62. 33, McQueen (Nev.) 57. 34, Moscow 56.5. 35, Skyline 56. 36, Hillcrest 55.5. t-37, Culver (Ore.) 52. t-37, Madison 52. t-37, Nampa 52. 40, Mountain View 48.

41, American Falls 43. 42, Vallivue 41.5. 43, Bishop Kelly 40. 44, Aberdeen 38. 45, Capital 35.5. t-46, Idaho Falls 34. t-46, Walla Walla (Wash.) 34. t-48, Burns (Ore.) 32. t-48, Post Falls B 32. 50, Middleton 29.

t-51, Gooding 28. t-51, Potlatch 28. 53, Rigby 27.5. 54, Preston 26.5. 55, Homedale 25. t-56, Marsing 24. t-56, Milton Freewater (Ore.) 24. 58, Ridgevue 17.5. t-59, Melba 11. t-59, Payette 11.


98 pounds: 1, Dylan Kruse, Arvada West. 2, Jorsh Ronquillo, Pocatello. 3, Steven Ware, Crook County. 4, Kolton Stacey, Shelley. 5, Roddy Romero, Post Falls. 6, Toby Keller, Kuna.

106: 1, Hunter Mode, Crook County. 2, Kase Mauger, Twin Falls. 3, Mitchell Romero, Arvada West. 4, Michael Mitchell, Kuna. 5, Joshua Gallup, Skyview. 6, Luke Grisafi, Central Valley.

113: 1, Darrick Stacey, Shelley. 2, Isaac Jessen, Post Falls. 3, Sebastian Peterson, Borah. 4, Sam Edelblute, Lakeland. 5, Cade Hernandez, Meridian. 6, Jackson Moon, Centennial.

120: 1, William Edelblute, Lakeland. 2, Lorenzo Vasquez, Culver. 3, Kreede Peterson, Kuna. 4, Kade Lincoln, Skyline. 5, Jordan Grimm, Post Falls. 6, Isaiah Evans, Timberlake.

126: 1, Ridge Lovett, Post Falls. 2, Trent Baun, Colville. 3, Pacer Quire, Crook County. 4, Derek Ramos, Hillcrest. 5, Zachary Mauras, Crook County. 6, Esai Castaneda, Blackfoot.

132: 1, Isaiah H Gonzalez, Pasco. 2, Joe Rice, New Plymouth. 3, Angel Rios, Columbia. 4, A.J. Delarosa, Post Falls. 5, Deveon Rodriguez, New Plymouth. 6, Colton Morgan, Crook County.

138: 1, Dayton Marvel, Arvada West. 2, Braxton Balmforth, Shelley. 3, Matt McLeod, Post Falls. 4, Tysen Jones, Eagle. 5, Ryan Wilson, Centennial. 6, Caleb Call, Shelley.

145: 1, Christian Hudson, Caldwell. 2, Larry Johnson, Lakeland. 3, Jason Burchell, Post Falls. 4, Kekana Fouret, Columbia. 5, Bradley Wiggs, Central Valley. 6, Cooper French, Bonneville.

152: 1, Elijah Cleaver, Nyssa. 2, Tyler Morris, Post Falls. 3, Luke Miller, Boise. 4, Grant Neukom, Meridian. 5, Parker Robinson, La Grande. 6, Boeden Bassett, Blackfoot.

160: 1, Braydon Huber, Post Falls. 2, Matthew Twait, Meridian. 3, Clay Keller, Baker/Powder Valley. 4, Sean Mccormick, Churchill County. 5, Victor Torres, Culver. 6, Devin Smith, Madison.

170: 1, John Knight, Colville. 2, Austin Ford, Bonneville. 3, Kyle Knudtson, Crook County. 4, Temana Tuha, Nampa. 5, Mitch Beitia, Middleton. 6, Coleton Kazmierczak, Post Falls.

182: 1, Jonathon Fagen, Fruitland. 2, Ben Seamons, Preston. 3, Elijah Livingston, La Grande. 4, Hayes Neukom, Meridian. 5, Brian Jackson, Pocatello. 6, Elijah Fisher, Centennial.

195:1, Joe Miller, McQueen. 2, Jason Gissel, Fruitland. 3, Alex Ojukwu, Boise. 4, Sullivan Andrus, Bonneville. 5, Michael Cox, Columbia. 6, Todd Payne, Idaho Falls.

220: 1, Nathan Sargent, Blackfoot. 2, Travis Mitchell, Caldwell. 3, Adam Wallace, Moscow. 4, Skylar Hughes, Columbia. 5, Anthony Cortez, Pasco. 6, John Keiser, Central Valley.

285: 1, George Barrera, Borah. 2, Jake McGinnis, Gooding. 3, Ben Dooley, Churchill County. 4, Caleb Parrott, Crook County. 5, Zac Ramos, Caldwell. 6, Davion Pruitt, Pasco.