RUPERT — The Red Halverson Invitational is named after a Minico High School wrestling coach who won back-to-back state titles with the Spartans, and the way the Spartans look this season, they might just repeat that legacy.
Minico, the defending 4A state champion, secured the title on Saturday before the first-place matches began, and made it official afterwards with a team score of 248.5. Minico finished 60.5 points ahead of Highland, the next closest competitor.
In the process, three Spartans earned individual titles.
Anthony Rawson earned most outstanding upper-weight-class wrestler, winning the 160-pound title in comeback fashion.
Down 2-1 with about 0:45 left in regulation, Rawson shrugged Jerome’s Ezekial Williamson off of his shoulders and wrapped him up for the takedown, giving him the match-winning third point.
Early in the tournament, though, it was much easier for Rawson, as he followed up a 44-second pin with two technical falls, 24-7 and 19-4.
“I was just moving my feet well,” Rawson said. “I didn’t let anyone get comfortable.”
Brian Borden also made a case for most outstanding wrestler with his first-place run, in which he didn’t allow a single point to his 152-pound opponents.
Borden followed up an opening 15-0 technical fall with a 5-0 decision, then pinned Caden Cobb of Kuna in the semifinals before Cobb could earn a point.
Finally, he got a rare first-place 15-0 technical fall over Austin Burrell of Madison.
Borden said his strategy was more in his attack than his defense.
“I was just trying to score as many points as possible,” he said. “I wrestled some tough kids, and nothing ever comes easy, but I would’ve liked a little more competition.”
Finally, Dallas Andrade won the 132-pound weight class by milking the clock in the third period with a 3-2 lead against Dekker Anderson of Highland. The Rams faithful wanted a stalling call, but Andrade forced Anderson to move him out of the ring as he held on for the win.
At the medal ceremony, Highland fans booed Andrade — something he said doesn’t happen much at wrestling tournaments, but he didn’t take it too personally.
“This is the third time we’ve wrestled,” he said, “and every time it’s been a one-point affair. So I think they just wanted him to get one, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
Andrade’s match wasn’t the only one with some chippy behavior for the Spartans, as Rawson and Jade Barendregt also had some tempers flare up in their finals matches. Minico head coach Boe Rushton said that’s how wrestling can be.
“It’s an emotional sport, and it can be an emotional roller coaster second to second,” he said. “Some kids, you’ve got to be fired up for them. Other ones, you’ve got to sit back and let them go. We always try to win the same and lose the same, but it’s hard when you’re emotions get into it.”
Two other local wrestlers topped the podium in Rupert.
Twin Falls’ Kase Mauger continued his great season with a win in the 106-pound final, and received local competition as he faced Gabriel Toboa of Jerome. Mauger got three takedowns en route to a 7-4 decision and a 32-1 record this season.
Jerome’s Jakob Murillo was the final local wrestler to win first place, and his path to 145-pound gold got tougher and tougher.
As Murillo worked through the field, his decisions got tighter: 15-3, 8-3, 4-3. Then, in the finals, he took down Bonneville’s Cooper French with only a couple seconds remaining in the third period to tie the match at 4-4.
In the tiebreaker, Murillo struck quickly, taking down French once more to get the win, which helped Jerome to a fourth-place finish in team scoring.
A few other locals ended up in finals matches as well.
Minico’s Zak Allred (120 pounds) pinned his first three opponents in less than a minute each, but fell in the first-place match to top-seeded Destin Summers of Snake River in a second-round pin.
Jade Barendregt represented the Spartans in the 195-pound final, but after working slowly up from a 2-0 deficit to Bonneville’s Sullivan Andrus, he was taken down in the final seconds for a 4-2 loss.
Jerome’s Fernando Luna earned second place in the 220-pound final, falling to Nathan Sargent of Blackfoot, who pinned every tournament opponent in the first round as he moved to a perfect 39-0 on the season.
Juan Ruiz of Minico rounded out the local title match action, as he fell to Borah’s George Barrera in the second round of the 285-pound final. Ruiz was the only one of Barrera’s opponents to escape the first round.
Rounding out the local team finishes were Twin Falls in 14th place, Declo in 17th place and Canyon Ridge in 20th place at the 22-team meet.
Rushton said this season has been progressing at a good pace, and its showing in Minico’s tournament finishes. However, he said that the road hasn’t been easy.
“It’s like the (New England) Patriots a little bit,” he said. “Everybody wants to unseat the champions, so we always get their best matches. We’ve had some really tight matches, but we’re on a roll right now.”
Rawson said the way his team won those close battles to get a dominant win at home was one of the best feelings for him and his teammates.
“I kind of think about it as protecting our house, and I don’t want anybody coming in here and beating me,” he said. “So I’m glad we could put on a show.”