Winning a state title is never easy, but the road for defending champions Pierce Mederios of Mountain Home and Dante Carreno of Caldwell just got a lot tougher.
The 4A classification’s 113-pound bracket is among the state wrestling tournament’s toughest, featuring two champions, one runner-up and a pair of placers.
“Every year there is always a weight class in there somewhere that has a lot of returning state champions, but this one is pretty exceptional,” Mountain Home coach Lynn Knudson said. “It’s going to be a battle to the end, but it’s good to have that kind of competition.”
After the first two rounds of competition Friday at Holt Arena, the field of 16 wrestlers was narrowed to four, setting up Saturday morning semifinals between top-seeded Eddie Daniel (32-2) of Minico and No. 4 Braeden Dickinson (37-9) of Canyon Ridge, followed by No. 3 Carreno (25-5) vs. No. 2 Mederios (40-2).
Mederios already has two state titles to his name, winning at 98 as a freshman and 106 as a sophomore. He’s also beaten Carreno — the reigning champ at 98 and a Rollie Lane winner — twice this season, including a 1-0 decision in the 4A District Three Tournament championship match.
“One-thirteen is tough this year for sure, but all that does is make me better for the future,” Mederios said. “It’s kind of exciting to be in a bracket like that. No one wants to walk through.”
After an overtime and one-point loss to Mederios, Carreno is poised for another shot at the two-time state champ.
“First takedown will always win, and then just ride him out and finish strong,” Carreno said. “Just push the pace.”
Although Mederios is the most decorated of the four semifinalists, his two losses this season came against Daniel and Dickinson.
“Both of them I feel that I could have won if I wrestled better,” Mederios said.
Before Mederios can turn his attention to avenging a loss, he’ll have to get past Carreno a third time.
“It will probably be a close one, but I’m hoping to distance this one a little more than the last couple,” Mederios said.