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Post Falls out to capture third straight Tri-State title

The Tri-State wrestling tournament turns 45 years old this week, and there’s no reason to believe it’s suffering from a midlife crisis.

The same quality that’s been present for the majority of Tri-State’s lifespan will be evident when the tournament begins Friday and concludes Saturday at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene.

Post Falls is seeking a third straight team championship. Standing in the way could be Tahoma from the Seattle area. Tahoma was ranked No. 1 in 4A in the preseason rankings.

“I think Tahoma is the favorite going in,” Post Falls coach Pete Reardon said. “They’re really tough and had some top-notch kids move in. They were going to be tough anyway, but they added some studs.”

Reardon believes his team will be in the title chase. And he says Mead could be in the hunt.

Mead won the Deer Park Invite two weeks ago and added the Inland Empire Classic title last week.

“Until you knock the king off …,” tournament director Pat Whitcomb said. “Tahoma has the best shot to knock off Post Falls.”

By the time the finals roll around late Saturday afternoon, Post Falls will be near the top. The Trojans could have as many as three individual champs. Reardon hopes to have six or seven placers.

“Tri-State is tougher than a state tournament,” Reardon said. “I remember one year we had a kid that didn’t place at Tri-State and ended up taking second in state.”

Six champs return. They are Ridge Lovett of Post Falls (won at 98; at 106 this year); Alex Cruz of Orting (113); Nick Hara of Moses Lake (120/132); Dalton Young of Lakeside (132/138); Dante Springsteen of Bethel (152); and Casey Randles of Coeur d’Alene (182).

Young, who is 13-0 this season and 137-0 overall, is seeking to join an exclusive club. Tri-State has had just two four-time champions – Jared Lawrence of Sandpoint (1994-97) and Sam Colbray of Hermiston (2012-15). Young has signed a letter of intent to attend Stanford.

In addition to Lovett, Post Falls brings back five Tri-State placers. The Trojans have lost two to early injuries, but Reardon is hopeful they’ll return. He said he’ll be doubled up in three or four weights.

Reardon said it’s hard so early in the season to know which teams have what going into Tri-State.

“I’m not trying to be coy or vague but it’s real early,” he said.

Whitcomb likened the tradition of attending Tri-State to another tradition a week later.

“Tri-State has been around long enough now that it’s become a tradition for a lot of people this time of the year,” Whitcomb said. “You put out your Christmas cookies for Santa and go to Tri-State.”

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