NAMPA — Kuna High School is one of the most storied wrestling programs with four state championships among its many other accolades.
But there was one thing missing. It was what the Kavemen had spent nearly two decades chasing — a Rollie Lane championship.
They finally got it at the 19th annual Rollie Lane Invitational Saturday at the Ford Idaho Center.
“It’s nice to finally get over that hump,” Kuna coach Pat Owens said. “We’ve been close, really close, and the guys are happy about it. Not our best performance, but I’m not complaining.”
The Kavemen, whose best finish previously was second in 2014, held off Post Falls with 189 points to become the first Treasure Valley team in a decade to win the tournament. Columbia was the last team to do so in 2010.
“A couple classes before us used to called themselves the Dream Team,” Kuna junior Hunter Mitchell said. “So I guess we have that bragging right now.”
Post Falls finished in second with 171.5 points. Coeur d’Alene (147), Nampa (138) and Lakeland (137) rounded out the top five.
The Kavemen claimed Idaho’s biggest and arguably most prestigious wrestling tournament with four placers, led by Mitchell, who won the 120-pound championship. He’s the first wrestler since Levi Perry in 2016 to win a Rollie Lane title.
The two-time reigning state champion did so in dramatic fashion too.
He was trailing 7-3 against Thunder Ridge’s Kaden Ramos (32-1) going into the third and final period. And Ramos, somewhat surprisingly, picked neutral to start the round. He had taken Mitchell (27-1) down three times in the first two rounds. But the decision backfired.
“Not to sound cocky or anything, but I’m best on my feet,” Mitchell said. “So once he picked neutral, I was like this is my time to go now.”
Mitchell scored a two-point takedown on a modified double leg to cut the deficit to 7-5. Mitchell then balled Ramos up in a cradle to get the pin — all in the span of 37 seconds.
“It’s the feeling of winning my first state championship all over again,” Mitchell said. “That’s basically how I’m feeling right now. … This is better for sure.”
Kuna’s other two finalists didn’t fare as well.
Junior Dante Roggio suffered a 14-3 major decision loss to Coeur d’Alene’s Drew Roberts in the 138 final and Preston Owens was on the wrong end of a double overtime thriller.
Owens lost 2-1 to former state champion A.J. De La Rosa of Post Falls. This came after Owens spoiled Crook County’s (Oregon) Hunter Mode’s attempt of becoming a four-time Rollie Lane champion with a second-round pin in the semis.
“That’s not a small thing as the five seed. To get there alone he had to really battle,” Pat Owens said. “So I’m really proud of him.”
Last year’s 4A heavyweight state champion Gavin Heindel took third for Kuna.
The Kavemen are the defending 4A state champions and have seven state placers back from that team. Their only losses this season have come at the Wasatch Intermountain Duals in Heber City, Utah. They got beat by Wasatch and Payson, who are both defending state champions in Utah.
“Our expectations are not going to change as the season goes on,” Pat Owens said. “We’re the defending state champions and we plan to stay there.”