New Plymouth High wrestling coach Caleb Campbell says his job has been especially easy this season.
“Usually you have a few kids that are really hard to work with, discipline issues and attitude and what not,” Campbell said. “But this team, they all have good attitudes. They all work hard.”
Coming off their best state finish in program history with last year’s second-place trophy, the Pilgrims are eager to build on that success.
New Plymouth won an unprecedented second straight 2A/1A District Three Tournament team title last week, qualifying 13 wrestlers for state Friday and Saturday at Holt Arena in Pocatello.
Eight Pilgrims won individual titles: Joe Rice (106 pounds), Levi Austin (113), Deveon Rodriguez (120), Chayce Roberts (132), Hanson Brudevold (160), Dallin Beus (170), Tyler Orr (182) and Wes Harris (285).
Rice, a sophomore, is the reigning state champion at 98 pounds; and Austin, a senior, won a state title as a sophomore at 106 and took third at state as a junior at 113.
“Those two are outstanding leaders,” Campbell said. “I don’t even need to tell them what to do. They do it before I even ask.”
Rice and Austin are seeded first in their respective weight classes after strong showings at the Rollie Lane Invitational in January. Austin won the 113-pound title at Rollie, and Rice was the runner-up at 106 despite representing the smallest classification in the field.
“We are a real close team,” Austin said. “We push each other in practice, and that’s what makes us good, having teammates pushing you to work harder.”
New Plymouth sent 17 wrestlers to state last season — falling short of its first state championship by a half-point to Ririe — but the Pilgrims say they aren’t adjusting their expectations with four fewer athletes this weekend.
“Our plan is to wrestle tough, wrestle strong and leave it all on the mat,” Austin said.
Local defending state champions
- 98 pounds: Dante Carreno, jr., Caldwell (now at 113)
- 106: Pierce Mederios, jr., Mountain Home (113)
- 132: Cyrus Salcedo, jr., Caldwell (138)
- 182: Levi Perry, sr., Kuna (195)
- 126: Robert Diaz, sr., Fruitland (132)
- 132: Sammy Eckhart, jr., Fruitland (138)
- 98: Joe Rice, soph., New Plymouth (106)