POCATELLO — The podium at the state wrestling tournament is a familiar spot for Jerome’s Ezekial Williamson and Gooding’s Jake McGinnis.
The two juniors defended their individual titles this year, and Williamson is now in a position to make Idaho wrestling history at next year’s state tournament.
Williamson’s 4-2 sudden victory over Minico’s Brian Borden in the 4A 152-pound weight class was his third consecutive state title, and if he earns a state title in his senior year, he’ll become the 26th wrestler in Idaho High School Activities Association wrestling history to win four individual state championships.
Even after his third title, Williamson said it never feels any less exciting.
“Once you have that feeling, it’s something that you look for all the time,” he said.
Williamson has faced Borden multiple times this season, and lost to him in the district championship.
“I watched the film from that game and talked with my coaches about what I could fix,” he said. “We made a gameplan, and I just stuck to it.”
McGinnis used sub-minute pins to power his way to the title match against Kenneth Copley of Sugar-Salem, and he had to grind out his 5-3 decision in the 3A 285-pound final.
“I had him on his back in the first round but couldn’t quite get him,” McGinnis said. “I was still up by three, though, so I just had to stick to the gameplan.”
McGinnis credited Copley, who he beat in last year’s title match in a 9-5 decision.
“He’s gotten a lot better and gave me a tougher win this time,” McGinnis said.
McGinnis will chase his third straight title next year as a senior, and in turn, plans to one up his brother, Cole, who wrestled at Gooding from 2010 to 2014.
“He got two titles,” McGinnis said, “so I’m knocking on my brother’s record.”
Four other local wrestlers, not including Minico’s three, racked up individual titles.
Canyon Ridge’s Braeden Dickinson faced Minico’s Dallas Andrade for the fifth time this season, all coming in first-place matches in the 132-pound weight class. They were split at 2-2 before Dickinson earned a 6-3 decision in Saturday’s state championship final.
“We’ve wrestled since eighth grade, and he’s pushed me to be better for so long,” Dickinson said of Andrade. “He’s one of the toughest guys to take down, but I just kept focused and trusted my training.”
From the other side of Twin Falls, Bruins junior Kase Mauger earned the 106-pound title, beating Lakeland’s Alex Edelblute, who pinned Mauger in the 98-pound title match last year.
Mauger said this year, he rode a lot better when he had position, and countered Edelblute’s reversals to win the title, which he called “the best feeling ever.”
The 106-pound bracket in 3A saw another winner from District 4, as Buhl freshman Kade Orr defeated Sugar-Salem’s Jonathan Marin in a 2-1 decision.
Buhl’s first-year head coach Fred Bartlett said Orr has been wrestling for a long time and had the experience to keep his nerves under control.
“He kept his composure better than I did,” Bartlett said. “That kid’s got some poise, (and) I couldn’t find a harder worker than Kade.”
Rounding out the local title winners was Kimberly’s Carson Schvaneveldt, a senior in the 3A 145-pound weight class. He worked from the No. 1 seed this year, but had no easy time with Fruitland’s Corey Eckhart, who came close to a late takedown in the title match.
“I was just thinking I better hold on,” Schvaneveldt said.
And as an early graduation present, he was rewarded with a state championship, which he said he worked so hard for in his high school career.
“I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a little kid,” he said. “It’s incredible.”