It’s been a landmark season for the Post Falls wrestling team.
The Trojans won their first Tri-State tournament championship.
They captured their first title at another prestigious tournament, Rollie Lane.
And they qualified a company of wrestlers (19) to the State 5A tournament, which begins a two-day run Friday at Idaho State University’s Holt Arena.
Now the Trojans want to finish it off right by achieving one last milestone – a state title.
Some would say it’s not a matter of if Post Falls will win but rather a matter of by how much it wins.
“I don’t, by any stretch, think we have it in the bag,” Post Falls coach Pete Reardon said, “but I have great confidence that we can win. We’re going to be fine.”
It’s a measured confidence that runs throughout Reardon’s team.
“It’s not a matter of making a statement, it’s a matter of finishing the journey,” Reardon added.
Reardon expects more than half his qualifiers to bring home medals.
He wouldn’t be surprised if as many as eight, maybe more, could win individual titles.
At Tri-State, Post Falls finished 36 points ahead of runner-up Moses Lake, which claimed the Washington 4A state title last weekend.
The Trojans take a defending state champion – 138-pound junior Alius De La Rosa, who is seeking a third state title – to state along with nine other state placers from a year ago.
Junior TJ Wolf (132) and seniors Drake Foster (126), Seth McLeod (182) and heavyweight Justin Farnsworth were runners-up last year.
McLeod and Foster, state champs as sophomores, are seeking redemption. Foster also won as a freshman.
Foster, McLeod and Wolf each won at Tri-State. Foster has signed to wrestle at Wyoming and McLeod signed with Boise State.
De La Rosa, who is 37-5, wants to finish as a four-time state champ. But that can’t happen without taking care of business this weekend.
“I’ve had some adversity mentally over the season,” De La Rosa said. “I’ve had some tough losses. I’ve had to learn to keep my head on straight and focus on the next match, the next tournament.”
He suffered two one-point losses at Tri-State – to Blake Beard of Central Valley and Jake Douglas of Lake Stevens. Beard defeated Douglas in the 138 final in Tacoma last weekend.
“The thing I’m most concerned with going to state is not wrestling to the best of my ability and losing to some of the kids I’ve beaten this season,” De La Rosa said. “I just need to be confident in my abilities.”
De La Rosa is convinced the Trojans will like the outcome.
“I don’t see us losing. We’ve worked too hard to let this slip,” he said.
McLeod is just glad to make it through the season healthy. It’s the first season in any of the sports he’s played that he’s been healthy.
His start last year was slowed by a broken foot from football. He then suffered a meniscus tear four weeks before regionals. He thought he was done for the year because his doctor told him he’d be out two to three months.
Then the week of regionals he asked his doctor if he could risk further damage if he tried to return.
The doctor told him if he could tolerate the pain he could try.
So McLeod didn’t step on the mat, not even for practice, until his first match at regionals. At state, he won his first three matches before falling 3-2 in the final.
He didn’t turn out for football, a sport he loves because of the contact, so he would be healthy. He still has pain in his knee but over time it will heal, he said.
“Honestly, I did as well as I could at state last year considering my knee,” he said.
He’s 39-0 this season.
“It was tough to miss football but I had to think about what was going to pay for college,” McLeod said.
McLeod expects golden results for himself and the team.
“I’m as confident as I can be with all the talent we have, the numbers we’re taking to state and the character we have,” he said. “It’s nice to know that everyone you’re depending on will do everything they can to come through for you.”
Wolf (31-4) doesn’t plan to get ahead of himself at state.
“It’s going to take wrestling one match at a time and going as hard as I can,” Wolf said.
Wolf said the Trojans are a faith-based team.
“More than half of our team is Christians,” Wolf said. “We’re a family in our training room. And the coaches push us past our limits so we can be winners. If we wrestle to our potential, we could run away with it.”
Foster (38-2) wants to leave with a third title and a team title.
“It was disappointing last year,” he said of finishing second after winning as a freshman and sophomore. “I’m more motivated this time. I have a different mentality. Last year I was overconfident. This year I’m going to take it to every kid I wrestle.”
He’s been reminded that he fell short last year every time he looks at the state plaques on one of the walls in the practice room.
“There have been many times this year I’ve looked up at the wall,” he said. “It puts things in perspective – that if you don’t wrestle well you’ll get beat.”
One of his wins was over CV’s Bryson Beard, who earned a state title last weekend.
As for his goal for the team? “I want to blow out the competition,” Foster said. “I feel like our team is the best prepared team in the state.”
Farnsworth (32-5) has been a state qualifier for four years. This weekend is personally important to him.
“I’ve taken this year more seriously than the others,” he said. “I’ve definitely come a long way since my freshman year.”
He plans to be aggressive at state.
“I’m going to push the pace and wear guys out,” Farnsworth said.
“My cardio is a lot better than guys 20-30 pounds heavier.”
Farnsworth has been thinking of winning a title since last year when he stepped on to the next-to-last rung on the awards podium.
“I’ve pictured myself on the top spot,” he said. “This is the last time I’ll be wrestling. I’m going to leave it all on the mat. I don’t want to leave here regretting anything.”
Seems to be a familiar sentiment throughout the team.
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