SANDPOINT — A bad call went against him, costing him a potential state title, but it was still a strong tournament for senior Hyrum Hunsaker, who finished third to lead the Bulldogs on Saturday during the 4A state wrestling tournament in Pocatello.
Three Bulldogs advanced to the semis of the main draw, no easy accomplishment in the loaded 16-wrestler brackets, but nobody could break through and advance to the finals of the 4A state wrestling tournament on Saturday at Holt Arena.
No. 1 seed Hunsaker came the closest at 170 pounds, losing a heartbreaking 2-1 decision in the semis to Jerome, when a bad call went against him late in the third period.
“He controlled the match, earning an escape to make it 1-0 in the second. A very questionable call was made by the referee in last 10 seconds of the match that left him down 2-1,” described Bulldogs head coach Jake Stark. “The referee made the wrong call. He gave points to the other wrestler without showing control. He (Hyrum) is a state champ in the eyes of our coaching staff and team.”
Hunsaker bounced back to score a 9-3 decision over Pocatello, then notched a second period pin over No. 2 seed Mitch Beita from Middleton to finish in third place. Beita was up 12-0 in his semi when he got caught and pinned, so one could argue the two best wrestlers in the bracket went at it in the third place match. Hunsaker finished a strong senior season with a 42-5 record.
“It’s funny how the No. 1 seed ended up wrestling the No. 2 seed, it’s like they were meant to wrestle,” claimed Stark. “In that match he proved he is one of the best in the state by posting a win over Beita.”
Andrew Webster (182) steamrolled into the semis with two pins, but met a tough Preston opponent and lost a 19-10 major decision. After getting pinned in consolation by Skyline, Webster bounced back for a 4-2 win over Preston in the fifth place match to cap a 28-13 season that included a district championship.
“Andrew had some solid wins at state and when he lost he was resilient and battled back and earned fifth,” said Stark. “Out of the top five placers at 182, they all had a chance to win it all. They were all quality wrestlers.”
Evan Stickelmeyer (285) upset two higher seeds to earn a spot in the semis, where he was pinned at 5:00 against Minico, which won the team title. Stickelmeyer, who finished the year at 14-8, was pinned by Twin Falls and Caldwell to finish sixth and grab the final podium spot.
“Evan wrestled like a stud despite giving up almost 30 to 40 pounds to his opponents because he is a light heavyweight, only weighing about 230. Most of the guys he wrested weighed closer to 285,” admitted Stark. “I am proud of his accomplishments and the way he finished the season.”
Casey Olesen (113) was the only other Bulldog to advance to the second day, falling to Idaho Falls in a 12-4 major decision in the consolation round. Olesen finished 2-2 at state, capping a solid 28-15 campaign, and will be one of the top returners next season.
“Casey also wrested tough and posted a win over a skilled Twin Falls wrestler that earned him a chance to wrestle in the second day of the state tournament,” said Stark. “He just fell short of placing with a loss to an Idaho Falls opponent.”
The Bulldogs took eight wrestlers to state, and with a nucleus of young wrestlers and some talent coming up in Top Dog, the future is bright.
Editor’s note: A special thank you to Ann Dickinson, for sending excellent pictured from the state wrestling tournament.