Caldwell won its first state wrestling title in program history last season, and the Cougars have the rest of their 4A competition on the ropes with one day of the state tournament in the books.
The Cougars lead second-place Lakeland by 57.5 points and qualified 11 wrestlers for Saturday’s semifinals at Holt Arena.
“You see teams get on a roll at the state tournament,” Caldwell coach Jeff Kloetzer said. “If we can get on one and capitalize in the semifinals, we’ll be fine.”
Caldwell won last year’s title by 81 points with 21 wrestlers, and that margin could grow even larger with 25 Cougars in the 2016 field.
“They’re athletic kids, and they’re really coachable. That’s a lot of it,” Kloetzer said. “As a group, we’re pretty close. I think that makes a big difference, too.”
POST FALLS ON PACE TO REPEAT
The Trojans hold a 42.5-point advantage over second-place Columbia, but coach Pete Reardon isn’t ready to celebrate just yet.
“It’s not over by any stretch of the imagination,” Reardon said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Post Falls has 132.5 points, Columbia — a four-time state champion at the 4A level — has 90 and Meridian is just a half-point back in third with 89.5.
The defending 5A champions qualified nine wrestlers for the semifinals, led by three-time champion Alius Delarosa, who is two wins away from joining an elite group of four-time winners.
Delarosa won by pin in both his matches Friday, improving to 37-1 at 145 pounds.
Teammate Tyler Wolf, who won at 132 last season, is already assured at least a second-place finish after his semifinal opponent was disqualified.
“This is a really tight group of kids,” Reardon said. “They work really hard together. They love each other, and they work hard for each other.
SUGAR-SALEM OUT FRONT IN 3A
The race for the 3A team title isn’t as clear as the two largest classifications, with first-place Sugar-Salem (117 points) separated from fifth-place Snake River (101) by just 16 points.
Fruitland (108) is second, Weiser (107.5) third and Teton (103.5) fourth.
Snake River won last year’s title and matched Sugar-Salem with eight wrestlers in the semifinals.
Fruitland, the 2014 champion, has five in the semifinals. Weiser, which won two in a row in 2012 and 2013, qualified three for the semifinals.
RIRIE ROLLING IN 2A
With a 39-point edge over its closest competitor, Ririe is poised to hoist the 2A championship trophy for the second year in a row.
The Bulldogs have nine wrestlers in the semifinals, while second-place Challis will try to close the gap with five semifinal qualifiers.
TOP SEEDS PREVAIL, MOSTLY
All but two of the 60 No. 1 seeds made it through the first day of competition unscathed. The biggest upsets of the day came in the 3A and 2A classifications.
▪ Timberlake junior Caleb Munson earned a 17-13 decision over No. 1 Thomas Baker of Teton in the 170-pound quarterfinals.
▪ Bear Lake senior Michael McDowell pinned top-seeded Cole Wallen of Potlatch in 4 minutes, 29 seconds in their 145-pound quarterfinal.