THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: Don’t take greatness for granted

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Before we dive head-first into spring sports in North Idaho ...

Ah, who are we kidding? No one’s getting outside around here for days, maybe even weeks.

But in any event, let’s take a look back at the winter sports season that was.

Specifically, wrestling.

TWO DECADES ago, there was another high school wrestling dynasty in North Idaho.

The Sandpoint Bulldogs won three straight state titles (1994-96), churned out multiple state champions, and their dual matches were spotlighted spectacles not to be missed.

During that run, the Bulldogs’ coach, Dan Taylor, warned fans not to take their team winning state titles for granted.

“These things don’t grow on trees,” he said.

We bring this up in the midst of a tremendous run by the Post Falls High wrestling team.

The Trojans recently brought home their fourth state 5A title in the last five years. It was the eighth straight year Post Falls earned a trophy for a top-four finish at state — the Trojans were runners-up in 2012, ’13 and ’17, and third in ’14.

Last year, Post Falls set a record for most points scored at state. This year, the Trojans were basically conceded the title before they headed to Pocatello.

Next year ...

There’s no indication Post Falls’ run in wrestling will end anytime soon. The Trojans have stability in the coaching staff, and a thriving club program to feed them future champions.

But still, let’s enjoy the impressiveness of what Post Falls has done while the Trojans are still doing it.

JUST AS impressive as Post Falls romping to another state last month was the fact that three of the top four teams came from North Idaho.

Coeur d’Alene was second and Lake City finished fourth, bringing home its first wrestling trophy in program history.

Before Post Falls started dominating at the state level, it was Coeur d’Alene that was considered the top team in the north, if not one of the best in the state. The Vikings won back-to-back state titles in 2010 and ’11. Post Falls started its run of trophies in 2012.

Coeur d’Alene’s trophy this year was just its second since 2011.

Then there’s Lake City.

Corey Owen, in his 10th season as coach, has slowly but surely built the Timberwolves into not only one of the top teams in the north, but in the state — which this year was one and the same.

Even though there was progress, it was still tough sledding — especially with Lake City trying to beat its head against Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene just to get its wrestlers out of the north.

This year, Lake City tied Coeur d’Alene for second at the Region 1 tournament (behind Post Falls, of course). And the Timberwolves had five regional champions, the most ever under Owen.

Through its first 22 seasons as a program, Lake City had just one state wrestling champion in school history. Under Owen, the T-Wolves have produced two in the last three seasons.

So maybe, in addition to enjoying Post Falls’ impressive run, we should salute the power of North Idaho teams overall at state.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.

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