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Post Falls wrestler James Ost, (right) listens to instruction during practice. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman Review)

Post Falls’ Ost part of wrestling tradition

That James Ost became a state wrestling champion last year for Post Falls as a callow sophomore shouldn’t have been too surprising. It’s in the blood.

He’s the latest in a successful Post Falls family wrestling lineage that dates back decades.

Over the years, coaches, schools and history can attest, wrestling has been conducive to similar family success. State-placing and champion relatives and siblings tend to beget others. Ost and Post Falls are no exceptions.

Brothers and cousins from the Booth families clan, plus Berger and Ost relatives, have provided the Trojans with years of amazing success.

“Last year we had five Booths, Bergers or Osts on the team, no brothers, all of them cousins,” said second-year coach Pete Reardon. “This year three are starters.”

And a fourth, Ost’s freshman brother, Stephen, expects to crack the lineup.

James Ost is the lone returning state champion from among area Idaho 5A schools. Coeur d’Alene, which returns seven of last year’s 13 state placers – including five finalists – is the defending team champion and Post Falls is experienced.

Obviously, the family connection has played a huge role in Ost’s success.

“We all started when we were little, wrestled each other and grew up with it,” Ost said. “It’s something I wanted to do and was pretty good at it.”

The legacy began two generations ago and has gained momentum throughout the ensuing decades. Oldest of the wave, Mike Booth, graduated in 1995 and has stuck around as an assistant coach at Post Falls. He tried to figure out how many have placed in state.

“There are probably at least 10 or 12 and I’m sure I’m missing somebody,” he said. “Several of them could have been in the finals.”

During the past decade alone 12 of the related wrestlers, seven of them Booths, have accounted for 26 state trips and 15 top-six finishes. James Ost became the extended families’ third straight state champion (Ryan Booth won first and Chad Booth a year later). Mike and a cousin, Tony Berger, were finalists. Danny Booth (two third places among three medals) and Derrick Booth were four-year state qualifiers.

“It’s probably a little bit expected,” Mike said. “We all live fairly close and everybody has kids the same age. Once you see the older brothers do it, you get involved. You start out wrestling each other and next thing you know, all are wrestling.”

And another generation approaches. Mike has a 3-year-old son.

The younger wrestlers have benefited learning from their older relatives, he said.

Ost is a prime example, first sharing a weight class with modest success as a freshman with cousin Derrick Booth (who beat him at state in 2009 and was fifth at 130 pounds last year), then becoming the 5A 125-pound state champion last year. Chad wound up fourth at 112 and Tyler Booth, now a junior, was fourth at 135.

“Freshman year at state I didn’t place,” Ost said. “It was not for lack of experience. I wasn’t as mentally into it as I was last year. By the end of the year I wasn’t surprised I won state.”

Two pins, a taut semifinal victory and comfortable finals triumph left him with a 33-4 season record. Ost has started this year 13-1, losing in the Tri-State tournament quarterfinals, but avenging that loss to Orting’s Shannon Maris in their rematch for third place.

“I did see it (Ost’s state title) coming,” said Reardon, who came to Post Falls as head coach after a stint at Kentlake in western Washington. “What wasn’t typical was for him, as an underclassman, to be as dominant as he was.”

Part of it was increased maturity and part was hard work that included an offseason freestyle regimen. Reardon, whose wife grew up in Post Falls with the Booth families, said Ost has proved to be a team leader.

Ost said there has never been undue pressure to live up to the family legacy. He added that the key to success is being mentally tough and confident. His goal is to win three state titles. He said his strength is on his feet, and in order to do so he must improve his ability to control opponents on the mat and pin.

His coach said he must also guard against complacency. With a generation or two of wrestling relatives surrounding him, complacency isn’t likely.