Quality in large quantities has generally been a trademark of the Tri-State wrestling tournament.
The 44th edition should be no different when the two-day meet begins Friday at North Idaho College.
As many as a half dozen teams will contend for the title in a tournament that has a long history of being as difficult as a state tourney, if not more so.
Post Falls broke through for its first Tri-State title on its way to a first state title last year. The Trojans are tabbed to pull off a repeat. The Trojans finished with 202 points and runner-up Moses Lake, the Washington State 4A champ, ended with 166.
“This year could really shape up to be an interesting tourney,” said Post Falls coach Pete Reardon, whose team is ranked 15th nationally. “There are several teams that could win it – Hermiston, Moses Lake, Tahoma, Lake Stevens, Orting. We have a chance to repeat if we have an outstanding performance, but it’s going to be very tough. This year’s field is very deep. We are going to have to fight for every point.”
Post Falls and Moses Lake each return 99 points. Tahoma brings back 98, Hermiston 88 and Orting 81.5.
NIC coach and tournament director Pat Whitcomb mentioned the same teams Reardon did and also included Havre (Montana), a state champion last year.
“Havre brought a partial team last year,” Whitcomb said. “That adds a bunch of quality right there.”
The tourney features 28 full teams and up to 60 teams represented overall.
Seven individual champions return. They are: Alex Cruz (Orting), TJ Baun (Colville), Case Wickman (Vashon Island), Dalton Young (Lakeside), TJ Wolf (Post Falls), Trey Meyer (East Valley) and Sam Colbray (Hermiston). An eighth champ who won previously, Alius De La Rosa (Post Falls), also is back.
Colbray – who is headed to Iowa State and is ranked second in the nation – could face Trevor Eicher of Deer Park in the finals at 220. They met in a dual last weekend with Eicher winning 6-2 in triple overtime.
Action begins Friday at 10 a.m. with quarterfinals at about 7 p.m.
Semifinals on Saturday are at noon with finals schedule for 5 p.m. Whitcomb said finals could be moved up to 4 if the tourney doesn’t experience any glitches.
“If we’re ready to go we’ll start because of the (expected) weather and teams wanting to get on the road,” he said.
Only all-sessions passes can be purchased. Cost is $25 for adults, $15 for students and senior citizens.
Post Falls and Deer Park traveled to Hermiston last Saturday for three duals.
The Trojans improved to 8-0 with a 31-30 win over Hermiston, 32-30 win over Caldwell (Idaho) and a 49-21 victory over Deer Park.
Against Hermiston, Post Falls got a pin from Ridge Lovett at 106 with 42 seconds left to secure the dual win. In the next-to-last match, heavyweight Kameron Welker got a pin with 1 second left in overtime.
Post Falls had a come-from-behind win against Caldwell.
“We won some matches where we were underdogs and we lost a couple of matches that we felt favored in,” Reardon said. “Matches like this are great for our program, because it teaches our kids to be tough and grind it out for tough wins.”
Deer Park also lost to Hermiston and Caldwell.
“We wrestled tough as a team and our best dual was against Post Falls with several close matches,” Deer Park coach Matt Jorgensen said.
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