Josh Queen wasn’t going to turn out for wrestling this season.
But the father of a friend told Queen he could win an individual title at the prestigious Tri-State Tournament.
“The only reason I went out was to win Tri-State,” said Queen, who did just that before the holidays. “I was going to work and get some money to buy a truck.”
He had to rally to capture the heavyweight championship at Tri-State. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Queen trailed 5-4 with 30 seconds left against a physical equal in Moses Lake’s Travis Wiser.
“I couldn’t hold him down for very long because he was strong,” Queen said. “So I thought if I waited until the end I could reverse him. It was desperation.”
It worked. Queen used a move he’d never tried before - he tucked his head down and did a forward somersault while trying to break out of a stalemate with Wiser.
“We almost went out of bounds,” said Queen, who became the first Priest River wrestler to win a Tri-State title. “When I got up he was on his back and I jumped on him.”
And Queen rode out the final seconds for the win, scoring three additional back points for a 9-5 victory.
Queen’s thankful he had an opportunity to win. He was trailing 7-0 in a quarterfinal match against Clint Glese of Auburn, Wash. But Queen managed to grab Glese around the head and throw him to his back for a second-period pin.
Now Queen will focus on a run at a state title. While winning at Tri-State is generally considered for most a more difficult feat than state, it’s the opposite for Queen.
The state champ and runner-up return. And Queen has much to prove after a disappointing finish last year. Sixth as a sophomore, Queen was out in three matches in 1997.
“I overlooked some guys,” Queen said. “I didn’t wrestle to my potential.”
Prior to the season, Priest River coach Ed Arvin challenged Queen to turn out for one reason: To prove state was a fluke.
“I told him he needed to do it for himself,” Arvin said.
Arvin says Queen’s toughest opponent is mental not physical.
“He’s bigger than most kids he wrestles,” Arvin said. “He’s stronger than he looks and he’s real quick. He has all the tools. But he’s lacked self-confidence.”
He was the top defensive lineman in the Intermountain League and led the Spartans to their best record in school history (7-2).
Queen wants to play college football. Idaho and Boise State have expressed interest. If he attends college, he may have to walk on because of his grades.
“I haven’t taken (school) seriously,” Queen admitted. “My parents made me a deal that if I make the honor roll they’d buy me a truck.”
First-semester grades are due in a week and Queen said he’ll pass all of his classes but won’t make the honor roll.
“I’m going to have to work my butt off second semester,” Queen said.
In more ways than one.
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