RATHDRUM – The Wright brothers – Seth, Nate and Nick – are wrestling for their late father.
Three years ago this April, Jesse Wright and his 16-year-old daughter, Keriann, were killed in a car accident. Nate and Nick were seriously injured in the crash along Highway 53 near Rathdrum.
“I miss him a lot,” Nate said.
“It impacted me a lot,” said Seth, the oldest of the brothers, who was a freshman at the time of the accident.
It affected Seth to a point that two years later he found himself in and out of trouble. That led to problems with his mother, Staci. Finally, an uncle, Matt Booth, who lives in Post Falls, asked Seth to come live with his family last year.
Seth moved and wrestled at Post Falls. He had a highly successful season, posting a 42-4 record and finishing second at the 5A state tournament in the 119-pound class.
His relationship improved with his mother, so he moved back home for his senior year at Lakeland.
“I wanted to graduate with the kids I’ve gone to school with all my life,” said Seth, whose career record is 125-29.
Seth, who moved up two weight classes this year, is 21-5 this season. Although he has one more loss than he had a year ago, he’s on track to have a better season. He wants nothing less than a state title.
His most recent loss came last Saturday, a 2-1 setback in the title match at the George Wild tournament at Kellogg to Paden Johnson of American Falls, a two-time 3A state champ.
“I almost had the match,” Seth said. “I escaped with one second left, but the referee didn’t see it that way. I could see how it could have gone either way.”
Seth is ranked third among 4A wrestlers. He beat one of the two ranked ahead of him last year and has seen the other wrestle.
“If I wrestle like I did at George Wild, I should have no problem beating them,” Wright said. “I’m wrestling with a lot more confidence.”
His coach agrees.
“Seth’s problem has never been physical,” Lakeland coach Rob Edelblute said. “Physically, he has all the tools to get the job done. We’re just working on the mental part.”
Part of the reason Seth battles doubts from time to time is the fact that he goes against senior Kyle McCrite (125) and junior Brandon Richardson (140) – both Tri-State and state champs – in the practice room each day. McCrite and Richardson work Seth over most of the time.
“He has to realize he’s drilling against two of the top wrestlers in the state every day,” Edelbute said. “That should give him confidence that he can beat anybody in his weight. We have to keep telling him that just because he isn’t successful in the practice room doesn’t mean he’s not the best in the state at his weight.”
Nate, a junior, is ranked second in the state at 103. His goal this year is to win a state title, but he finds himself in the same weight as Sandpoint sophomore Garret Belgarde, who is ranked No. 1 among all classifications.
“He sees himself now as a contender for a state title,” Edelblute said.
Nate is 20-11, but admittedly has lost some matches he should have won.
One of those such losses came last week when while leading 11-2 against Josh Carlton of Lewiston he got pinned in the final eight seconds.
“He’s come a real long way,” Edelblute said.
Nate suffered a broken leg, broken collarbone and brain trauma in the car accident.
He missed the first part of his freshman season after pins in his left leg were taken out.
“It took me a while before I started wrestling well,” Nate said. “I improved a ton my sophomore year. That’s when I felt I was totally back on my game. I just work as hard as I can to make dad proud of me.”
Nate has no memory of the accident. In fact, he was in a coma for a few days following the accident and then on strong pain medication for 10 days thereafter.
“The last thing I remembered before the accident was dad getting into the car.”
Nick is a freshman and is wrestling at 130 on the junior varsity. He remembers the accident because, unlike his brother, he was wearing a seatbelt and had fewer injuries. He suffered a broken arm and bruised spleen. His face required 123 stitches because he was cut up from the shattered glass.
“I still have the scars,” said Nick, not to mention the emotional scars. “I just want to do as well as I can for dad.”
Edelblute said he wasn’t sure until Nick turned out this year if he was going to wrestle in high school.
“His favorite sport is football, and he talked about not wrestling,” Edelblute said. “He’s pretty raw right now, but if he keeps working he can be a good wrestler in time.”
Nick has accomplished the one goal he set going into the season.
“I weighed 160 pounds last fall, and I wanted to wrestle at 130,” Nick said. “I made scratch weight at 130 for the first time last week.”
The Wrights have three younger brothers who also wrestle. It’s no wonder wrestling is in their blood. They’re from the famous family tree that includes the Booths, Osts and Bergers who have wrestled at Post Falls.
Nate said wrestling is more than a sport to him.
“It’s my passion,” he said.
The season will conclude in three weeks.
“I want to win a state title for my dad,” Seth said. “When I was a freshman my dad told me I could win a state title. I definitely want it for him.”