The annual Tri-State wrestling tournament may be getting older, but it’s showing that even old dogs can learn new tricks.
Friday launches the 41st edition and this year the tourney will include a 15th weight – 98 pounds – commensurate with the classes used in Idaho.
It’s on an experimental basis, North Idaho College coach and tourney director Pat Whitcomb said.
“We’re not even seeding that class. It’s going to be a scramble,” Whitcomb said.
One constant, though, is the difficulty the tourney offers annually. Most years, coaches believe the tourney is tougher than state meets. That shouldn’t change this weekend.
Mead ran away with the title last year and Lewiston, which went on to capture its first state title, was a distant second, a half point ahead of Post Falls.
Whitcomb said four teams are contenders for the team title – Hermiston, Kuna (from the Boise area), Lewiston and Post Falls. Dark horses would be Mead and University, which captured the Inland Empire Classic title Saturday.
The tourney, which features 511 wrestlers from a record 59 teams, begins Friday morning at 10 at North Idaho College. The quarterfinals are that evening at 7. Action resumes Saturday morning at 9 with the semifinals at noon and finals at 5:30.
Three champions return. They are two-time champs Josh Newberg of Kelso (126 pounds) and Tyler Berger of Hermiston (138) and Chandler Rogers of Mead (170).
In addition to Rogers, five other area wrestlers drew top seeds: Drake Foster of Post Falls (120), Bryce Parson of Lewiston (132), Joe Grabel of Deer Park (145), Charlie Eldred of Reardan (152) and Tyler McLean of Mead (160).
Eight of the top seeds last year won. The highest seed to break through was a fifth seed.
“It stayed pretty true to form,” Whitcomb said. “It’s rare that an unseeded wrestler gets into the finals.”