The Post Falls wrestling team began the season where it left off last year – winning a championship.
Make that two to open the season for the Trojans.
Sydney (Mont.) High School paid all expenses – flight, housing and food – for the Trojans to attend the Sydney Eagles Invite last weekend. It was a dual tournament on Friday and a bracket tourney on Saturday.
“Sydney is almost in North Dakota,” Post Falls coach Pete Reardon said. “It’s four hours northeast of Billings.”
The Trojans flew to Denver and on to Billings before riding a bus for the final leg of the trip.
Post Falls cruised to both titles. The Trojans topped perennial Washington 4A power Lake Stevens 49-21 in the duals final on Friday and then finished with 221 points to top distance runner-up Lake Stevens (135) on Saturday.
“I’m friends with Brent Barnes (Lake Stevens coach) and they went last year,” Reardon said. “They recruited us to come out.”
Five Trojans won individual titles – freshman Ridge Lovett (103 pounds), sophomore Braydon Huber (126), senior TJ Wolf (138), senior Alius De La Rosa (145) and junior Bradley Noesen (205).
“It was great weekend,” Reardon said. “The kids really enjoyed the trip. What an honor for our program for somebody to pay for the trip. It was a neat team building time. They really wrestled well for an opening weekend.”
De La Rosa and Wolf are returning state champions. De La Rosa is seeking to become the Trojans’ first four-time state champ.
Post Falls returns four other state placers: Huber, second last year at 113 as a freshman; Noesen, a junior who was sixth at 195; Matt McLeod, second at last year as a freshman at 106; and sophomore Jordan Grimm, second last year at 98.
The Trojans bring back 11 state qualifiers. They advanced 19 to state last year in piling up 256 points – 66 ahead of runner-up Bonneville.
The key last year for Post Falls is its wrestlers embraced the pressure of being picked to win the state title. It was the Trojans’ first team title. They also broke through and won the prestigious Tri-State tournament – as difficult, if not more so, than a state tourney.
The Trojans will have a handful or more state champs this year.
“We could have between five and seven who make the finals,” Reardon said. “If you get that many in you’ve got a chance to win. I always say that to the guys. If you can make it to the state tournament you can place, and if you can place you can win it.”
It’s highly unlikely that the Trojans can match the 19 state qualifiers they had last year.
“That would be amazing if we could,” Reardon said. “We graduated three state champs. I don’t know if we have that amount of depth. I think 15 would be a great number for us.”
Reardon is looking to De La Rosa and Wolf to be team leaders.
“They’re quiet kids, but they’re stepping up their leadership role,” Reardon said. “That’s a significant void going into the year. We had so many seniors last year that were great kids and great leaders. Alius and TJ have done a nice job taking the reins as far as setting the tempo. Our younger kids look up to them.”
Reardon sees Columbia and Bonneville in the mix for the team title. The Trojans will go against Columbia the night before their annual tourney, the River City Duals.
The Trojans have a schedule that will test them. This weekend, Post Falls will travel to Hermiston to take on the three-time Oregon 5A champs and the Idaho 4A state champ, Caldwell.
After Tri-State, Post Falls will go to the Hall of Fame Classic in Moses Lake and dual Central Valley, Mead and Moses Lake, the defending Washington 4A state champ.
Then Post Falls goes to the Rollie Lane tournament in Nampa, which attracts the toughest southern Idaho teams; they’ll host their tournament; and they’ll finish the regular season at the Battle for the Buckle at Coeur d’Alene.
Can Post Falls win a second straight state title?
“We’re just going to keep working hard,” Reardon said. “Good things are going to happen. The kids are fun to be with and I have a good group of coaches who like to work with the kids. That’s a good recipe.”
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