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Greg Lee column: It’s time for WIAA to adopt state duals wrestling tourney

East Valley wrestling coach Craig Hanson shares an opinion held by many of his peers.

They believe there needs to be a state duals tournament.

Many coaches in Idaho want the same thing.

Hanson used the Dream Duals last weekend, held at the Spokane Convention Center, as sort of a dry run example of how a state duals tournament could come off.

Hanson said Washington coaches have proposed a duals tournament many times but to no avail. He thinks they’re getting closer to the WIAA seriously considering it.

He believes it can be done without adding extra days to the season. And, really, that’s the only way he believes it can be pulled off.

Hanson said the strongest proposal calls for district tournaments to be held the first week of postseason where individuals would qualify to state in an expanded 32-man bracket.

Then the individual state tournament could be held the third week as it is currently scheduled.

He said the state duals tourney could be held in a single day. The top eight to 16 teams would tangle to decide championships.

Just how those eight to 16 teams go to state would have to be determined.

One way would be how you finished in league duals. Another could be determined by the state coaches ranking teams.

This is an idea whose team has come.

Yes, the state tournament as it is now is for deciding individual titles and team titles based on how those kids fare. But when it comes to a strength of a team, duals are another animal.

Strong duals and individual teams are two different things much of the time. You could have a strong duals team but not have the depth of quality to challenge for a trophy in the individual state tourney.

Likewise, you could have a group of talented individuals but not have enough quality at each weight to do much in duals.

Blessed is the coach who has both.

There are states that have both types of tournaments.

Hanson said coaches were close one time trying to get the WIAA to host a duals meet.

“Now we’re pushing again,” he said.

University coach Don Owen has long been a proponent of a dual state tourney.

“It’s a lot better way to determine who has the best team in the state,” Owen said. “We’ve been fighting this battle for 25 years. My team would have won a state tournament several times if we’d had a dual tournament. It’s a better way to decide the best team rather than a team trying to win state with five individuals.”

Travis Hughes’ Mt. Spokane team won the 3A division last Saturday in the Dream Duals, beating then top-ranked Kamiakin and second-ranked Edmonds-Woodway, but he still prefers the individual tourney concept.

His counterpart at Mead, Phil McLean, is all in with a dual tourney.

“It allows more fans, students and wrestlers to have a vested interest in the ‘team’,” McLean said. “I think a dual tournament would grow our fan base and provide another avenue for students to succeed and be part of something bigger than themselves.”

Idaho coaches like the concept, too.

“If a team is tough enough they could win both tournaments,” Post Falls coach Pete Reardon said. “A dual-meet atmosphere could be really good for the sport.”

Coeur d’Alene coach Jeff Moffat agrees.

“Washington is on the right track pushing for this,” Moffat said. “I hope Washington succeeds in getting one because then Idaho may start talking about it.”

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