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Gem State Is All Business At The Folkstyle Nationals
Idaho brought home six individual titles from the Foklstyle Nationals competition
Published: 3/19/2024 8:17:27 AM
Al Fontes
Contributing Writer
 

(Team Idaho wrestling poses after unofficially winning Folkstyle Nationals once again)

This past weekend the Gem State of Idaho was all business at the 2024 USAW Folkstyle Nationals held at the Uni-Dome on the campus of Northern Iowa University. For example, Chris Owens and staff has made it a priority each season to bring Idaho’s elite together to compete against the best of the best in the country. Since 2021, Team Idaho has entered at least sixty plus wrestlers to these championships. Whether it’s the Folkstyle Nationals, Fargo, or National Duals, Team Idaho has proven they can compete with the top tier and has left no doubt that the Gem State is among the top small states in the country.

This year alone, Team Idaho assembled one of its largest contingents to date at 82 wrestlers, which was just below the tournament’s home state of Iowa at 88. Although this tournament does not keep an official team score, it is apparent that Team Idaho was the top performing state this year, bringing home an amazing six individual National Champions and 35 All-American honors. In actuality, Idaho has won the unofficial team title the last four years, producing among the largest numbers of All-Americans in the process.

Leading the Junior boy’s division is newly crowned 4x State Champion Mack Mauger of Blackfoot. Heading to the University of Missouri this fall, Mauger showed why he is among the top lightweights in the country by adding to his record five Fargo titles with Folkstyle title number four at these championships. Without a doubt, he will go down in the history books as one of the most accomplished wrestlers in Gem State history. On top of that, four more Gem State wrestlers joined Mauger on the top step of the podium this year. They include South Fremont’s Jaxton Packer, Carson Exferd (Nampa), Hudson Rogers (Meridian), and Shilo Jones of Mountain View.

Winning his first Folkstyle national title over teammate Tucker Bowen of Soda Springs, Packer has had an exceptional season this year. More recently, he won his first 3A state title, fourth state medal overall, and is committed to compete for the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota. Having had the opportunity to write an article about Jaxton in my TIER ONE series, I look forward to his wrestling journey moving forward.

Also earning a rare fourth state title this year, Nampa’s Carson Exferd has had an exceptional season as well. His hard work and commitment through the years to reach this level has led him to this point of winning his first national title. With an incredible wrestling resume to his credit, which includes additional All-American honors, Exferd is committed to compete for the University of Wisconsin. He has a bright future ahead!

No stranger to these championships, Hudson Rogers of Meridian is among the top upper weight wrestlers in Idaho. Equivalent to his teammates, Rogers has earned multiple All-Americans, two Idaho State titles, and now back-to-back national titles in championship format. His hard work and dedication to the sport has paid off as he is headed to Oregon State next fall. I look forward to his potential at the next level.

The fifth Junior National Champion for Idaho is Shilo Jones of Mountain View High School in Meridian. Winning his first 5A state title this year, Jones has been no stranger to top level competition. In fact, he has traveled the entire country seeking the best competition possible, putting his reputation on the line, and to date has earned an incredible twelve (12) All-American honors in the three styles, which also includes several earned at the Fargo Nationals. Rated among the top heavyweights in the country, Jones is committed to compete for North Dakota State University next Fall. I wish him the best the best in the future years to come. Jones has definitely set a precedence for all to follow.

The remaining Junior level All-Americans all hold exceptional prep credentials. They include Meridian’s Jeremiah Gonzalez and Carson Gooley, John Behm (Shelley), Rider Sequine (Post Falls), Boden Banta (South Fremont), Wyoming commit Tucker Bowen (Soda Springs), Draven Johns (Caldwell), Wallace Durfee (Declo), Western Colorado commit Jacob Blandford (Middleton), Kaleb Grove (Weiser), and Treven Hokland of Middleton.

Team Idaho also performed very well in the boy’s 16U division, bringing home a total of 11 All-American honors. Leading this young group includes finalists Brand’n Edstrom of Madison and Damion Hamilton (Post Falls), followed by Grace’s Kole Younger, Sawyer Anderson (Highland), Sean Hall (Canyon Ridge), Jake Mescher (Bishop Kelly), Gunner Tamez, Wade Williams (American Falls), Tensi Thompson (Bishop Kelly), and Oakley Maddox of Malad.

The Junior girl’s contingent also represented well at these championships. Led by freshman standout Keanna Conrad of Blackfoot, the Gem State brought home a total of 8 All-American honors between the 16U and Junior divisions. Only a freshman, Conrad showed the nation why she is among the top future talents by placing fifth in the Junior division and then dominating the competition in the 16U competition to win her first prep level national title. Joining Conrad on the All-American podium include Idaho state placers Rihanna Mora (Vallivue), Courtney Hunt (American Falls), and preceding All-Americans Zoe Fries (Kuna), Elise Twait (Meridian), Amie Hartman (Mountain Home), and Clare Waite of Boise, a recent commit to Central College in Illinois. Once again, the future looks bright for Idaho in the girl’s division.

To put everything into perspective, to fly a large contingent of this size to Iowa, bring home 35 All-Americans in addition to producing six individual champions is a large undertaking, not an easy achievement, and noteworthy considering the per capita statistics of Idaho’s small population. Since 2021, Team Idaho has been the top performing state at these championships, which did not happen by circumstance. Undeniably, it has been Chris Owens’ Blue Print for Action coupled by an accumulation of hard work and commitment by many behind the scenes in many wrestling rooms throughout Idaho, “Best on Best” training settings, and one-on-one sessions across the state where each and every wrestler on Team Idaho has put in countless hours of intense training and preparation for events of this caliber.

My college coach and mentor, Zack Papachristos always emphasized to his athletes, “Strive for perfection, but always accept excellence!” From my observations, the wrestling culture in Idaho is strong and mirrors this competitive spirt.

 

Great weekend for Idaho wrestling. Our wrestlers performed at high level, especially in the top and bottom positions. Wrestling in our state has come a long way and our coaches state wide should be very proud!”

  • Chris Owens, Director of Operations for Idaho

 

To conclude, the future looks very bright for the Gem State in both the boys and girls divisions. The consolidated effort by Chris Owens, the Director of Operations, coaches, and volunteers statewide to bring together Idaho’s best is paying off in dividends with the overall performances in the last several years. I look forward to the future of wrestling in Idaho and to all Team Idaho wrestlers that put it on the line against the best of the best, a job well done. WE’RE ONE IDAHO! 

JUNIOR ALL-AMERICANS (BOYS)

113 – Jeremiah Gonzalez (Meridian, 11), 3rd Place

113 – Johnny Behm (Shelley, 10), 8th Place

120 – Mack Mauger (Blackfoot, 12), NATIONAL CHAMPION

120 – Rider Sequine (Post Falls, 11), 5th Place

120 – Boden Banta (South Fremont, 11), 6th Place

126 – Jaxton Packer (South Fremont, 12), NATIONAL CHAMPION

126 – Tucker Bowen (Soda Springs, 12), 2nd Place

126 – Draven Johns (Caldwell, 11), 4th Place

138 – Carson Exferd (Nampa, 12), NATIONAL CHAMPION

138 – Wallace Durfee (Declo, 12), 6th Place

157 – Jacob Blandford (Middleton, 12), 5th Place

175 – Hudson Rogers (Meridian, 12), NATIONAL CHAMPION

190 – Treven Hokland (Middleton, 12), 6th Place

215 – Carson Gooley (Meridian, 12), 4th Place

215 – Kaleb Grove (Weiser, 12), 5th Place

285 – Shilo Jones (Mountain View, 12), NATIONAL CHAMPION

 

16U ALL-AMERICANS (BOYS)

94 – Brand’n Edstrom (Madison, 10), 2nd Place

94 – Kole Younger (Grace, 9), 5th Place

106 – Greysen Packer (St. Anthony), 3rd Place

113 – Sawyer Anderson (Highland, 11), 5th Place

132 – Sean Hall (Canyon Ridge, 10), 3rd Place

132 – Jake Mescher (Bishop Kelly, 9), 8th Place

138 – Gunnar Tamez (Meridian), 6th Place

138 – Wade Williams (American Falls, 10), 7th Place

144 – Tensi Thompson (Bishop Kelly, 10), 4th Place

144 – Oakley Maddox (Malad, 9), 7th Place

150 – Damion Hamilton (Post Falls, 10), 2nd Place

 

JUNIOR ALL-AMERICANS (GIRLS)

115 – Rihanna Mora (Vallivue, 11), 5th Place

125 – Keanna Conrad (Blackfoot, 9), 5th Place*

130 – Courtney Hunt (American Falls, 10), 8th Place

135 – Zoe Fries (Kuna, 11), 4th Place

145 – Clare Waite (Boise, 12), 3rd Place

145 – Elise Twait (Meridian, 11), 5th Place

190 – Amie Hartman (Mountain Home, 11), 4th Place

 

16U ALL-AMERICANS (GIRLS)

124 – Keanna Conrad (Blackfoot, 9), NATIONAL CHAMPION*

 

*DOUBLE ALL-AMERICAN





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