NAMPA – The old dog was up to its same old tricks Saturday at the Idaho Center.
A wrestling coach is only as good as his wrestler – and vice versa – and Minico found the perfect combination with once-retired head coach Brad Cooper returning to lead a deep, talented bunch to the 4A state wrestling championship to cap off an unbeaten regular season.
The Spartans tallied 247 points, edging second-place Caldwell by just 10.5 points.
Cooper, whose team won a state title in 2006, retired from coaching in 2010 after a successful 28-year tenure. When the Spartans desperately needed a head coach five years later, Cooper came to the rescue. He might scoff at the term “legendary” – but what word better describes a coach in the Idaho Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, with almost 20 district titles, more than two dozen individual state champs, and now two team state championships?
“Coach isn’t easy on us; he’s always pushing us hard to our limits,” said Eddie Daniel, who won his second individual state championship at 120 pounds. “I think that’s why we’re successful this year.”
Minico held a slim lead heading into the finals – just 2.5 points above Caldwell. The Spartans had four wrestlers in the finals, and three were victorious.
Daniel, a senior, started things off with a nail-biting 7-6 decision over Kade Lincoln of Skyline.
“I think it was patience and playing it smart,” Daniel said of his win. “I didn’t force anything and waited for an opening to open up and take it.”
At 152 pounds, Minico senior Koy Meredith lost in the finals to Jerome’s Ezekial Williamson by 3-2 decision.
In the 160 finals, James Anderson beat Ben Solis of Caldwell by decision, 6-1.
“I knew I could ride him, I wanted to tilt him and get ahead in points. I just worked my shots,” said Anderson, who confidently entered the finals having already beaten Solis earlier this season at the Red Halverson Tournament.
Boe Boston put the finishing touches on the Spartans’ championship with a 7-3 decision over Owen Stebbin of Sandpoint in the 182-pound finals.
“I just tried to keep him off my legs,” Boston said “No one in the state can really ride me.”
Teammates and coaches posed for pictures with the championship trophy, and the banner that will soon be hanging in the Minico gym’s rafters.
“We’re always in the room twice a day, in the morning and after school,” Boston said. “Our team works super hard. It feels really good for that to pay off this season.”
Minico had 19 wrestlers qualify for the state tournament, and 14 of them placed in the top six in their respective divisions.
The Spartans’ third-place finishers were Dallas Andrade at 126 pounds, Ike Allred at 138 and Brian Borden at 145.
Fourth place medals went to Avery Stimpson at 98 pounds and Anthony Rawson at 145.
Zak Allred at 113 pounds earned a fifth-place podium spot, while Juan Ramirez (132 pounds), James Rydalch (138), Kendall Peterson (170) and Juan Ruiz (285) all finished in sixth place.