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THE FRONT ROW WITH JASON ELLIOTT: Moves aren't just made on the mats

| December 26, 2020 1:15 AM

To have a season, some coaches have had to adjust and tweak things where necessary to get the games in.

And in arguably the closest contact sport you can find — wrestling — it has been no different.

IN MOST years, area teams open the season at the Inland Empire Classic at Central Valley High in Spokane Valley.

It didn’t happen this year, because of, you know.

For Lakeland and Coeur d’Alene, those teams didn’t open the season until Dec. 17 with a dual in Rathdrum.

By that point, Lakeland was able to allow 10 fans into the dual, with some parents rotating out between the lower and upper weights.

Due to social distancing limitations, like basketball, there’s no handshakes at the end either.

“It’s a weird atmosphere without fans and parents in the gym,” Lakeland coach Rob Edelblute said. “But I know Coeur d’Alene’s in the same boat, so we’re just trying to do everything we can to make the season happen.”

Due to COVID, when Kellogg had to postpone its annual George Wild Invitational, Lakeland stepped in to host.

“We’re just trying to get some matches,” Edelblute said. “For us, we’d normally be at Central Valley, Tri-State (at North Idaho College) and Sierra Nevada (in Reno, Nev.), so we’ve lost at least 20 matches already. We’re just trying to get the kids as many matches as possible.”

Due to some lineup adjustments at least early on, Lake City coach Corey Owen has had to figure out his depth on the fly in some big situations late in duals with Moscow and Timberlake.

TWICE ALREADY, Owen has called on JV wrestler Grey Shinkle, a junior, to fill in during matchups with Lewiston and Timberlake.

Against Lewiston, Lake City trailed 39-15 heading into the 170-pound match where Owen opted to put Shinkle in, and bump Matthew Whitcomb up to 182. Shinkle pinned Brenden Thill at 170 and Whitcomb pinned Reuben Thill.

“It’s nice to have that kind of flexibility,” said Owen, who has moved senior Matthew Whitcomb — a defending state 5A champion at 170 — from 170- to 182-pounds in a few duals this year. Matthew has been on fire to start the season and really is able to wrestle anywhere in the lineup.”

Whatever works, as the Timberwolves have started the season 5-0.

“We’ve been wrestling well,” Owen said. “I’m pretty pleased with this kind of a start.”

And as some states wait to find out if they’re even going to be allowed to get started, it’s a good sign that — at least for now — this part of the state started and have a path to keep going.

Hopefully, we can keep it that way.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for The Press. He can be reached by telephone at (208) 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at Follow him on Twitter @JECdAPress.