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2024 Idaho High School State Wrestling Tournament Preview (Class 4A)
Al Fontes breaks down the athletes to watch, title contenders, and dark horses in Class 4A
Published: 2/21/2024 10:30:57 PM
Al Fontes
Contributing Writer
 

ORDER GAME PHOTOS





The 4A divisions returns 9 individual State Champions with 53 state placers overall. A total of 20 wrestlers are in position to earn a possible third or fourth state medal. Once again, this year’s 4A contingent is well balanced from the lightest to the heaviest weight groups and features several wrestlers with impressive state, national and international credentials. As of this writing, the team race is between returning champions Minico and Bishop Kelly (BK) with several other teams battling for a top 5 spot.

A total of 9 wrestlers return in pursuit of one of more individual state titles. The leaders among this talented group are Blackfoot’s Mack Mauger (126s) and Kolter Burton of Century (138s), each vying for rare fourth title. Hands down one of the best prep wrestlers to every to come out of the Gem State, Mauger enters these championships with a record 5 Fargo National titles and multiple other titles and All-American honors at the national level competitions. A commit to commit at the University of Missouri, Mauger will be very difficult to beat in his fourth pursuit to the top of the podium. With an equally impressive list of accolades, Burton is also a Fargo National Champion with multiple All-American honors to his credit. Committed to compete for Oklahoma State, Burton brings an impressive 58-1 record to these championships with his lone loss being to 5A standout Carson Exferd earlier in the year at Rolle Lane.

The next three wrestlers are each in pursuit of a third state title and have a combined 7 finals appearances. They include senior Garrett Vail of Minico (220s) and BK’s Jake Castagneto (132s) and Matthew Martino (152s). Earning All-American honors at the Folkstyle Nationals, Castagneto is a 3x finalist and headed to North Dakota State next fall. Fellow teammate, Martino, has earned multiple All-American honors in addition to winning Gold in both styles at the Pan Am Games. Additionally, he is on track to match his older brother, Christopher with a possible third and fourth title. Only a junior, Martino is committed to join his brother at Princeton next year.

Other returning state champions include Minico’s Preston Sonner-Cranney (195s) and BK’s Manuel Valdez (138s), Jadon Skellenger (160s), and Seiya Thompson at 170s. What’s more, Skellenger is committed to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and has a multitude of national and international accolades to his credit, which includes a Gold medal at the 2023 U20 Pan American Championships (Greco) and U15 World Championships.

Other notable wrestlers to watch are all in position to earn a possible fourth state medal. They include Carter Balmforth of Shelly (132s), Dominic Alcantara (138s – Caldwell), Minico’s Spencer Pease (182s), and Gavin Williamson of Jerome at 195s. Additionally, thirteen wrestlers are in position to earn a third state medal. Among this solid group is returning state finalists’ Saxton Scott of Idaho Falls (120s) and Paxton Twiss (160s – Minico) in addition to Fargo All-Americans Carlos Valdez (145s) and Treygen Morin (132s – Ridgevue), an NCAA Division II commit to West Liberty University in West Virginia. Also, keep an eye on returning finalists’ Mikael Teague (Minico), Jaxson Freeman (120s - Caldwell), DJ Neider (145s – Idaho Falls), Xander Zollinger of Skyline (170s), and Micha Serr (182s – Preston), as well as Folkstyle All-American Sean Hall of Canyon Ridge (132s).

The team race in the 4A has been the talk among the Idaho wrestling circles for a majority of this season. The “BIG” question?? Will Minico repeat this year with their sheer numbers or will BK score big with their seven top-level returning state medalists (includes 5 returning State Champions) in addition to 8 other qualifiers? There are so many scenarios and factors that come into play that we can spend eternity talking about it. So, here we go…let’s sum it up with what we do know. Minico enters these championships with a total of 20 qualifiers, which includes 9 returning state medalists, 6 with past state experience, and 5 more competing in their first state tournament. This strong contingent is led by returning State Champions Preston Sonner-Cranney (195s) and two-timer Garrett Vail at 220s in addition to finalists Mikael Teague (98s) and Paxton Twiss (160s).

Now, let’s take a closer look at BK. Without a doubt, they field one of the strongest core groups of number ones in the entire state. They include returning State Champions Jake Castagneto (132s), Manuel Valdez (138s), Matthew Martino (152s), Jadon Skellenger (160s), and Seiya Thompson at 170s. Additionally, they have two additional returning state placers in Phil Janquart (285s) and Fargo All-American Carlos Valdez (145s), as well as frosh standouts in Holton Crane (98s) and Jack Mescher (126s). Keep an eye of underclassman Dylan Dottaviano (113s) and Tensei Thompson 145s. Regardless of any pre-tournament speculation, both teams will need to bring their “A” game this weekend in addition to catching a few breaks throughout, but most importantly, each team’s seconds must also rise to the occasion. Expect fireworks!!! Other teams to watch include Caldwell, Bonneville, Blackfoot, Century, Jerome, and Lakeland.

The list of freshmen making their mark this season in the 4A is similar to the 5A division as a handful will challenge for a medal this weekend. They include Mountain Home’s Camden Kuntz and Ayden Tokita of Skyline at 106s in addition to Lakeland’s Carson Leonard (113s) and Jake Mescher of BK (126s.).

All in all, I expect the 4A division to be a great team and individual competition this year. The road to the team title is expected to by a bumpy ride from start to finish, but at the end of the day, it will require an “all-hands on deck” effort by every wrestler entering the circle this weekend. Below is a comprehensive list of teams to watch, state placers, All-Americans, college commits, and wrestlers ranked nationally. Buckle up for the ride!





 

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH

 

MINICO (20)

 

Returning State Medalists (9)

98 – Mikael Teague (Soph.), 2nd State

113 – Greyson Molina (Jr.), 5th, 4th State

120 – Cooper Stimpson (Sr.), 5th State ‘22

152 – Brody Ottley (Sr.), 4th. State ‘22

160 – Paxton Twiss (Sr.), 3rd., 2nd. State

170 – Kyson Anderson-Osterhout (Sr.), 4th. State

182 – Spencer Pease (Sr.), 5th, 3rd, 3rd State

195 – Preston Sonner-Cranney (Jr.), 4th, State Champion

220 – Garrett Vail (Sr.), 2x State Champion

 

Returning State Qualifiers (6)

126 – Landyn Schmidt (Soph.), 2nd Dist. (2x)

132 – Zane Serr (Sr.), 4th Dist. (2x)

138 – Niamiah Naranjo (Soph.), 1st. Dist. (2x)

138 – Alize Gonzales (Jr.), 2nd. Dist. (2x)

145 – Izaak Armendarez (Jr.), 3rd. Dist. (2x)

160 – Andrew Ball (Sr.), 2nd. Dist. (4x)

 

State Qualifiers (5)

98 – Roman Valero (Fr.), 3rd. Dist.

106 – Rodrigo Aceves (Soph.), 2nd. Dist.

145 – Luis Villalobos (Sr.), 4th Dist.

182 – Chase Vail (Jr.), 4th. Dist.

220 – Daniel Salinas (Soph.), 3rd. Dist.

 

BISHOP KELLY (15)

 

Returning State Medalists (7)

132 – Jake Castagneto (Sr.), 2x State Champion, 2nd State

138 – Manuel Valdez (Sr.), 3rd, State Champion

145 – Carlos Valdez (Jr.), 4th, 3rd State

152 – Matthew Martino (Jr.), 2x State Champion

160 – Jadon Skellenger (Sr.), State Champion

170 – Seiya Thompson (Sr.), State Champion

285 – Phil Janquart (Sr.), 6th State

 

Returning State Qualifier (3)

113 – Dylan Dottaviano (Soph.), 2nd Dist. (2x)

145 – Tensei Thompson (Soph.), 3rd Dist. (2x)

182 – Dreyvan Luna (Sr.), 3rd Dist. (2x)

 

State Qualifiers (5)

98 – Holton Crane (Fr.), 1st. Dist.

126 – Jake Mescher (Fr.), 2nd Dist.

126 – Conner Kelsch (Sr.), 3rd Dist.

138 – Jackson Duncan (Sr.), 5th. Dist.

170 – Parker Allumbaugh (Jr.), 3rd Dist.

 

CALDWELL (14)

 

Returning State Medalists (6)

106 – Camus Book (Soph.), 3rd State

120 – Jaxson Freeman (Soph.), 2nd State

126 – Draven Johns (Jr.), 3rd State ‘22

138 – Dominic Alcantara (Sr.), 6th, 5th, 5th State

145 – Gracin Go (Sr.), 2nd State

152 – Jayce Wolf (Jr.), 5th State ‘22

 

Returning State Qualifiers (2)

132 – Kelvin Martin-Gomez (Sr.), 3rd Dist. (2x)

138 – Marquez Arredondo (Sr.), 2nd Dist. (3x)

 

State Qualifiers (6)

106 – Gauge Gonzalez (Fr.), 2nd Dist.

113 – Rodrigue Enock (Fr.), 4th. Dist.

113 – Aiden Valerio (Fr.), 1st. Dist.

160 – Jesus Alvarez (Fr.), 3rd Dist.

170 – David Vargas (Fr.), 4th. Dist.

195 – Juan Juarez (Jr.), 2nd Dist.

 

OTHER TEAMS TO WATCH: Bonneville (14), Blackfoot (12), Century (16), Jerome (12), Lakeland (15).

 

3X STATE CHAMPIONS (2)

Mack Mauger (Blackfoot, 12)

Kolter Burton (Century, 12)

 

2X STATE CHAMPIONS (3)

Matthew Martino (Bishop Kelly, 11)

Jake Castagneto (Bishop Kelly, 12)

Garrett Vail (Minico, 12)

 

1X STATE CHAMPION (4)

Manuel Valdez (Bishop Kelly, 12)

Jadon Skellenger (Bishop Kelly, 12)

Seiya Thompson (Bishop Kelly, 12)

Preston Sonner-Cranney (Minico, 11)

 

3X STATE PLACERS (7)

Mack Mauger (Blackfoot, 12), 1st, 1st, 1st

Kolter Burton (Century, 12), 1st, 1st, 1st

Jake Castagneto (Bishop Kelly, 12), 1st, 2nd, 1st

Carter Balmforth (Shelley, 12), 2nd, 6th, 3rd

Spencer Pease (Minico, 12), 5th, 3rd, 3rd

Gavin Williamson (Jerome, 12), 4th, 4th, 2nd

Dominic Alcantara (Caldwell, 12), 6th, 5th, 5th

 

2X STATE PLACERS (13)

Matthew Martino (Bishop Kelly, 11), 1st, 1st

Garrett Vail (Minico, 12), 1st, 1st

Manuel Valdez (Bishop Kelly, 12), 3rd, 1st

Preston Sonner-Cranney (Minico, 11), 4th, 1st

Saxton Scott (Idaho Falls, 11), 3rd, 2nd

Paxton Twiss (Minico, 12), 3rd, 2nd

Carlos Valdez (Bishop Kelly, 11), 4th, 3rd

Kylan Guerra (Blackfoot, 12), 4th, 3rd

Clark Petersen (Shelley, 11), 3rd, 4th

Treygen Morin (Ridgevue, 12), 4th, 4th

Greyson Molina (Minico, 11), 5th, 4th

Tavin Rigby (Preston, 12), 6th, 6th

Caleb Somers (Canyon Ridge, 12), 6th, 6th

 

1X STATE PLACERS (32)

Mikael Teague (Minico, 10), 2nd Place

Camus Book (Caldwell, 10), 3rd Place

Mason Hiller (Bonneville, 10), 4th Place

Bodee Green (Hilcrest, 10), 5th Place

Juan Guevara (Canyon Ridge, 11), 6th Place

Gabe Pyne (Century, 11), 3rd Place

Johnny Behm (Shelley, 10), 5th Place

Jaren Knopp (Lakeland, 11), 6th Place

Cooper Stimpson (Minico, 12), 5th Place ‘22

Draven Johns (Caldwell, 11), 3rd Place ‘22

Jaxson Freeman (Caldwell, 10), 2nd Place

Tristen Vega (Burley, 10), 4th Place

Hazen Thompson (Century, 11), 5th Place

Sean Hall (Canyon Ridge, 10), 4th Place

Sam Smith (Blackfoot, 12), 5th Place

Ryker Vail (Bonneville, 11), 4th Place ’22

Brayden Cosens (Blackfoot, 10), 5th Place

Ashlei Hawkins (Sandpoint, 11), 6th Place

Jayce Wolf (Caldwell, 11), 5th Place ‘22

Brody Ottley (Minico, 12), 4th Place ‘22

Shane Sherrill (Sandpoint, 12), 5th Place

DJ Neider (Idaho Falls, 11), 2nd Place

Gracin Go (Caldwell, 12), 2nd Place

Xander Zollinger (Skyline, 12), 2nd Place

Kyson Anderson-Osterhout (Minico, 12), 4th Place

Britton Sorenson (Bonneville, 12), 5th Place

Connor Claborn (Canyon Ridge, 12), 6th Place

Micah Serr (Preston, 12), 2nd Place

Jorden Tyler (Sandpoint, 11), 3rd Place

Wesley Hodges (Mountain Home, 12), 4th Place

George Valenzuela (Skyline, 11), 6th Place

Jaxton Humphries (Century, 10), 6th Place

 

FRESHMAN TO WATCH

98 – Holten Crane (Bishop Kelly), 1st. Dist.

98 – Reece Call (Hillcrest), 1st. Dist.

98 – Jesse Rae (Emmett), 2nd Dist.

106 – Camden Kuntz (Mountain Home), 1st. Dist.

106 – Ayden Tokita (Skyline), 1st. Dist.

106 – Kade Knopp (Lakeland), 1st. Dist.

106 – Gauge Gonzalez (Caldwell), 2nd Dist.

113 – Aiden Valerio (Caldwell), 1st. Dist.

113 – Carson Leonard (Lakeland), 1st. Dist.

113 – Isaac Cruz (Jerome), 2nd. Dist.

113 – Noah Reines (Vallivue), 3rd Dist.

126 – Jake Mescher (Bishop Kelly), 2nd Dist.

160 – Jesus Alvarez (Caldwell), 3rd Dist.

 

WORLD LEVEL MEDALIST

Jadon Skellenger (Bishop Kelly, 12), U15 Gold (GR)

 

PAN AMERICAN GAMES MEDALISTS

Jadon Skellenger (Bishop Kelly, 12), 1x Gold/2x Silver

Matthew Martino (Bishop Kelly, 11), 2x Gold/OW (15U)

 

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS (FS/GR/FOLKSTYLE)

Saxton Scott (Idaho Falls, 11)

Mack Mauger (Blackfoot, 12)

Kolter Burton (Century, 12)

Jadon Skellenger (Bishop Kelly, 12)

 

ALL-AMERICANS (FS/GR/FOLKSTYLE)

Saxton Scott (Idaho Falls, 11)

Mack Mauger (Blackfoot, 12)

Kolter Burton (Century, 12)

Sean Hall (Canyon Ridge, 10)

Jake Castagneto (Bishop Kelly, 12)

Treygen Morin (Ridgevue, 12)

Manuel Valdez (Bishop Kelly, 12)

Carlos Valdez (Bishop Kelly, 11)

Jadon Skellenger (Bishop Kelly, 12)

 

4A DIVISON WRESTLERS RECOGNIZED IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS (4)

120 – Mack Mauger (Blackfoot, 12), #10 (WUSA), #16 (FLO), #19 (SBLive)

138 – Kolter Burton (Century, 12), #22 (SBLive), Special Mention (WUSA)

152 – Matthew Martino (Bishop Kelly, 11), #23 (WUSA)

157 – Jadon Skellenger (Bishop Kelly, 12), #15 (FLO), #18 (WUSA) HM (SBLive)

220 – Garrett Vail (Minico), Special Mention (WUSA)

 

COLLEGE COMMITS (9)

Mack Mauger (Blackfoot), University of Missouri (DI)

Kolter Burton (Century), Oklahoma State University (DI)

Jadon Skellenger (Bishop Kelly), Lehigh University (DI)

Jake Castagneto (Bishop Kelly), North Dakota State (DI)

Matthew Martino (Bishop Kelly), Princeton University (DI)

Draven Johns (Caldwell), University of Missouri (DI)

Treygen Morin (Ridgevue), West Liberty University (DII)

Kylan Guerra (Blackfoot), Eastern Oregon (NAIA)

Jackson Duncan (Bishop Kelly), Midland University (NAIA)





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