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Area sends strong group to state wrestling

In a cost-cutting measure, the Idaho state wrestling tournaments have been condensed from three days to two.

To accommodate the shortened schedule, 14 mats instead of the usual eight will be scattered across the floor of Idaho State University’s Holt Arena when the tourneys begin Friday morning.

North Idaho will be well represented in Pocatello.

Five area wrestlers will be out to defend state championships. They are junior Braden Mowry of Coeur d’Alene (125 pounds) and sophomore Casey George (119) and senior Tracey Huffman (135) of Lewiston in 5A; senior Kyle McCrite (125) of Lakeland in 4A; and senior Dayne Swisher of Bonners Ferry (140) in 3A. At least two dozen area participants have legitimate shots at winning state titles. will be streaming live video from start to finish.

•In 5A, Region I champ Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston and Post Falls will be among seven teams that will challenge for state trophies. The top four teams earn trophies.

Coeur d’Alene was ranked first in the final dual rankings and second in the tournament rankings. District III champ Caldwell was ranked first in tournament and second in the dual ratings.

“I think it’s going to be the closest tournament ever among the top teams,” CdA coach Jeff Moffat said. “To win it, we’ve got to put at least three in the finals and get a bunch of thirds.”

Moffat certainly sees his team in the title hunt.

“Right now, if you go on straight seeded guys, Caldwell and Lewiston are the favorites,” Moffat said.

CdA qualified 18 to state. That’s second most behind Highland (19). Lewiston (16), Caldwell (15) and Post Falls (15) are next.

The Vikings’ top hopes for state titles are Mowry, senior Andrew Palmer (103), sophomore Johnny Peregrina (152) and junior Jake Norris (160).

Post Falls would like to send out retiring coach Dennis Amende with a trophy. Amende is stepping down after 18 seasons.

The Trojans’ best chances at individual titles are Amende’s son, Cole, a senior, at 215 (third last year) and junior Chad Booth (103), who pinned the top-ranked Palmer in the regional final last Saturday.

•In 4A, Columbia of Nampa is expected to run away from the field. But Region I champ Lakeland, which qualified 10, should challenge for a trophy.

Even though the Hawks are light on numbers, they’re stocked with quality. They have four wrestlers who earned top seeds. They are McCrite, senior Seth Wright (130), senior Tristan Storrs (135) and junior Brandon Richardson (140). Richardson, who is 40-0 and hasn’t allowed a takedown, is seeded fourth in a tough weight. He won a title at Tri-State.

Sandpoint’s best shot at a championship is sophomore Garret Belgarde (103). He’s seeded first.

•In 3A, District I-II Priest River has an outside shot at a trophy.

The Spartans have three top seeds. They are sophomore James Hegge (119), sophomore Thomas Kissinger (125) and senior Wayde Rabidue (145), who is seeded first.

The area’s other undefeated wrestler is junior heavyweight Dylan White of Timberlake (28-0). He’s seeded first.

All-IEL girls team

Seniors Kama Griffitts of Coeur d’Alene and Katie Baker of Lake City were named co-Inland Empire League players of the year in a vote of the league’s girls basketball coaches.

CdA coach Dale Poffenroth was named coach of the year.

Sophomore Savanah Blinn of Lewiston was named newcomer of the year.

Joining Griffitts and Baker on the first team were senior Amy Warbrick and sophomore Carli Rosenthal of CdA; senior Jordan Schoening and junior Katelyn Loper of Post Falls; and junior Nicole Redd of Lewiston.

Named to the second team were: Sydney Butler of LC, Dayna Drager and Sadie Simon of CdA, Aynslee Stuart of Post Falls and Kiki Edwards-Teasley of Lewiston.