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By: Will Hoenike

hoenike@gmail.com

Will is an award-winning broadcaster who has been doing play-by-play on a professional level since the early 2000s. His "roll call" of sports called includes hockey, football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, gynmastics, mixed martial arts, volleyball and wrestling. He has done pro games, including serving five seasons as the play-by-play broadcaster of the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads, major and small-college contests and high school events. He is a graduate of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University and is originally from Spokane, Wash.


The Case For 98s

Idaho remains one of the few states with a 98-pound weight class. Coaches within the state see many benefits to keeping it that way.

Published: 1/21/2019 10:17:56 AM
 

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Turns out, there’s something you can hear at the annual high school state championship wrestling event in Idaho that you can’t hear almost anywhere else in the country.

Iowa? Nope. Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois? Nope, nope, nope and nope. Nebraska? Virginia? No and no.

You certainly won’t hear it anywhere on the west coast. Not Washington or Oregon. Not California, not Arizona. Not Utah, nor Wyoming.

That thing you can hear?

A public address announcer, bellowing out, “and your state champion in the 98-pound weight class…”

“To my knowledge we are the only state on the West Coast that has a 98-pound class,” acknowledged Pete Reardon, the head wrestling coach at Post Falls High School.

And it isn’t just the west coast. It’s just about anywhere. In 2011, the National Federation of High Schools adopted a uniform set of high school wrestling weight classes, beginning at 106 pounds. But Idaho has hung on to its 98-pound classification. It is typically a younger classification – 60 of the 64 wrestlers at the 2018 state tournament last spring were either freshmen or sophomores.

“There are many kids, especially ninth graders who are too small for the 106 weight class,” Reardon continued. “The 98 class gives those small and undeveloped kids an opportunity. I am for increased opportunities for kids so I am in support of the 98-pound class.”

Two of Reardon’s athletes, Roddy Romero and Braxton Mason, met for the state championship last spring at 98 pounds with Romero winning via decision. Kuna also had two athletes in the 5A bracket at 98 pounds, Anthony Ceballos and Toby Keller.

Mountain Home (4A), Blackfoot (4A), Sugar Salem (3A) and Raft River (2A) also had two athletes each in their respective 98-pound bracket last spring.

It turns out the 98-pound bracket is popular for out-of-state teams when it comes to marquee tournaments like the Rollie Lane Invitational in Nampa or Tiger-Grizz in Idaho Falls.

“Out of state teams love that we have a 98 [pound class], as most of them have truly undersized 106-pounders,” said Columbia head coach Todd Cady. “Idaho tournaments provide an opportunity for them to wrestle opponents of like size and not be giving up so much weight.”

The downside in Cady’s view comes in the number of schools who don’t have depth in the 98-pound weight class – “as adding another weight class gives that much more of an option for forfeits in duals and smaller brackets in tournaments,” he noted – and the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association has even talked about eliminating the 106-pound classification (along with 195 pounds) from dual meets to avoid the possibility of forfeits.

But, for both Cady and Reardon, the good outweighs the bad here in the Gem State. They are supporters of the 98-pound classification.

“We always talk about the sport being for all types of athletes, small and large. This provides the opportunity for the real little guy, who usually grows up to be bigger,” Cady said. “This allows for him to continue in the sport and not to get discouraged by wrestling heavier kids all of the time.”

“It is important for kids to be healthy, to eat healthy and live a clean lifestyle,” Reardon added. “If a kid is doing that and can make 98 in a healthy manner, then it’s a great place for the small and young kids.”

 
 


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