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Sports >  High school sports

Prep wrestling: Three-time defending state champion Post Falls still the team to beat in talent-heavy Inland Empire League

Post Falls High School wrestling coach Pete Reardon and the Trojans are aiming for a fourth straight 5A state wrestling title.  (KATHY PLONKA/Spokesman-Review)
Post Falls High School wrestling coach Pete Reardon and the Trojans are aiming for a fourth straight 5A state wrestling title. (KATHY PLONKA/Spokesman-Review)

The juggernaut between Coeur d’Alene and Spokane still has the means to add to its growing collection of Idaho 5A wrestling trophies.

Three-time defending state champion Post Falls – aiming for its sixth state title in seven years under coach Pete Reardon – returns a half-dozen state medalists, including defending 152-pound state champion Ethan Miller.

Reardon’s son, Lane Reardon, is also back for the Trojans after placing second at state at 126 pounds along with runner-up Roddy Romero (106), who will also help the Post Falls in its quest to four-peat.

The Trojans, favored to win a four-team Inland Empire League that had three teams place in the top five at state last season, have five state team titles, two runner-up trophies and third-, sixth- and seventh-place 5A finishes during Reardon’s tenure.

Post Falls has already claimed a big tournament win at the Bucks Bags duals in Idaho Falls and a 70-9 IEL romp over Lewiston.

“Until someone knocks them off, they’re the team to beat,” Coeur d’Alene coach Jeff Moffat said. “Meridian should be good, too, with a lot of depth.”

Post Falls will host Meridian on Jan. 14 in a marquee nonleague dual. Fans are not allowed to attend wrestling matches in Idaho due to social distancing restrictions.

Moffat’s experienced and talent-heavy Vikings could also be in the running with Post Falls and Meridian.

Coeur d’Alene, which placed fourth at state last year, returns six state medalists, including a pair of two-time state champions in Drew Roberts (138), Gunner Giulio (160) and three-time state placer Nolan Randles (152)

“We do have some guys, but we are battling some injuries right now and trying to get guys into the right weights,” said Moffat, who enters his 20th season with the Vikings. “We’ll be a much different team after Christmas.”

Lake City is back after a fifth-place state finish but was hit hard after the graduation of a deep and talented senior class.

But the Timberwolves’ cupboards remain stocked.

Defending state champion Matt Whitcomb (182) returns for Lake City as well as state medalists Porter Howard (fourth at 160), Zach Macdonald (fifth at 98) and Blaine Leonard (fifth at 106).

Lewiston doesn’t appear to have the depth of the IEL’s top teams, but it does have talent in spots, including defending 106-pound champion Tristan Bremer, who defeated Post Falls’ Romero in the state title match.

4A Inland Empire LeagueLakeland, coming off a fourth-place finish at state earlier this year, has won 12 straight 4A IEL titles.

But the Hawks, led by 20-year head coach Rod Edelblute, graduated one of their most successful senior classes in recent history.

Lakeland looks to seniors Riley Seigford (third at state at 145 last season), John White (sixth at 182) and 10 other returning starters to help the Hawks try to win another IEL crown.

Sandpoint welcomed back six state qualifiers, including 220-pound Tag Benefield, who looks to build off his third-place finish at state last season.

State runner-up Logan Kearney (220) leads Moscow, which handled a solid 3A Timberlake program 76-24 last week.

3A Intermountain LeagueTimberlake posted a third-place finish at the 3A State tournament last year.

James Billingsley (third at 170) and Trevor Cady (sixth at 285 pounds) to lead the defense of the program’s Intermountain League title.

The Tigers will have company in the IML, as rival Bonners Ferry returns several state qualifiers, including 126-pound 3A champion Evan Barajas and runner-up Eli Richards (160).

Ethan Guy, second at 120 last season, leads a Kellogg team that has plenty of state tournament experience.

“We expect to have a successful year,” said longtime Kellogg coach Scott Miller, who returns six state qualifiers. “We have a nice range of youth and veterans and fill out most of the weight classes. Depth is improved.”

Priest River has been led by junior Keith Porier (126 ), who has stood out for the Spartans early after claiming individual wins against Lake City and Sandpoint.

2A/1A Central Idaho LeagueSt. Maries has the experience and talent to win the five-team Central Idaho League and build off of last year’s eight-place finish at the 2A/1A State tournament.

The Lumberjacks return nine lettermen and four wrestlers who placed at state last year, including third-place Sam Martin (138), fourth-place finishers Dylan Sotin (113) and Kyle Sibert (195) and fifth-place Delbert Lambson (220).

“Hard-working group,” St. Maries coach Dennis Humphrey said. “Great senior leadership.”

Girls wrestling The Idaho High School Activities Association approved a plan in October to sanction a single-classification girls state wrestling tournament, an event that would begin in the 2021-2022 school year.

Local standouts like Sandpoint senior Kayelin Johansen, who will wrestle at NAIA Corban University next year, will be gone.

But underclassmen like Coeur d’Alene sophomore Alyssa Randles – a defending state champion in a non-IHSAA sanctioned state tournament earlier this year – will have the opportunity to be part of history.

Randles, ranked 12th in the country at 122, leads Coeur d’Alene after placing second at the Brian Keck Memorial preseason national tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, last month.

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