THE FRONT ROW WITH JASON ELLIOTT: A break, if you can call it that

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The holidays are a time to kick back, relax and enjoy family time.

If area high schools choose to also, it’s also a time to get some morning, afternoon or other practices during a two-week break from classes.

Thanks to a new ruling, teams can’t just spend all that time in the gymnasium either.

EARLIER THIS year, the Idaho High School Activities Association adopted a winter no-contact period, where coaches and players get a three-day break from practices and games.

The good thing is that schools can take any time they’d like, just as long as they take one.

For some schools, not much will change as some of the smaller schools in the area opt not to schedule games during the holiday break.

Others, well, that’s when the fun starts.

“Over the last six to seven years, we’ve kind of gone in a different direction and really practice less than anyone else around,” said Post Falls boys basketball coach Mike McLean, whose break comes Dec. 22-24. “We usually take a practice off during the week and ask them to give everything they’ve got during the week in games.”

Timberlake will have its break between Dec. 29-31.

“It’s going to make things a little difficult for us,” Timberlake boys basketball coach Mike Menti said. “We’ve got a weird time off. Hopefully we’ll get through those boo-boos and injuries that might pop up. I’m not sure if I’m going to like it or hate it. But we’re all playing by the same rules, so we’ll do it and make the best of it.”

St. Maries takes its break from Dec. 24-26 due to the Lumberjacks competing in the Freeman wrestling tournament on Saturday, Dec. 28.

“The state was fairly flexible with when each school does it,” St. Maries wrestling coach Dennis Humphrey said. “It won’t be too bad in my opinion. For it, kids need to be kids. At that point, we’ll need it as coaches as well. It’s not all that bad because it gives us some time away for a few days.”

IN A few weeks, the Tri-State Invitational wrestling tournament will celebrate its 49th year on the campus of North Idaho College Dec. 20-21.

A little later into 2020, duals on Jan. 25 featuring Lake Stevens, Orting and Hermiston visiting Post Falls could replicate what will be on display at NIC.

“We’ve got a good relationship with all those schools,” said Post Falls coach Pete Reardon, whose team wrestled all three last year in Post Falls. “We’ve just been dropping the offer and finally having things work out. Each of those schools have some great kids.”

Post Falls will wrestle all three teams on that day.

“It’s great to see something different and solid teams,” Reardon said. “It forces you to fight a little bit to get the job done.”

The Trojans travel to the Sidney Invitational in Montana next weekend, then return home to wrestle Lake City on Dec. 12.

“We could always use a good dual early in the season, and it really helps trying to balance the amount of duals we have,” Reardon said. “Going in December, it’s nice to have a solid dual right away. Lake City is going to be tough again, and it’s going to be a challenge right before Tri-State.”

And you thought finding parking in downtown Coeur d’Alene was challenging.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at (208) 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at jelliott@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @JECdAPress.

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