Wildcats fare well at George Wild tourney

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Photo by Teri Exienberger Judson Hall works his opponent over en route to winning the championship at the George Wild Memorial Wrestling Tournament this past weekend.

KELLOGG — A trio of Wildcats walked away with gold, while another handful scored a lot of points for Kellogg during their biggest home wrestling event of the year.

Expectations are high this year for the Kellogg Wildcats and after winning their first tournament of the season last weekend, they set their sights on making a statement at the George Wild Memorial Wrestling Tournament.

Kellogg showed just how tough they could be as a team, finishing fourth overall.

Seniors Judson Hall, Austin Stepro, and junior Dakota Eixenberger wrestled their way through tough brackets to finish at the top of the podium in their respective weight classes.

But before they got to the tournament they had to compete in three grueling duals which helped determine seeding for the next day.

“I think we had good moments in the three duals tonight (Friday night),” head coach Scott Miller said. “I like how our young guys are showing some grit and being aggressive. I thought our second match was a little disappointing in our effort and we almost allowed Orofino to come back, but they are also a good team so getting a win over them was good. I was really pleased how we recovered from that and wrestled a very solid match against Flathead. I thought our match with Eureka was very solid. Going 3-0 is a good way to start, so I'm pleased.”

The next day was essentially a sprint for all of the competitors as the tournament was underway.

Miller was incredibly pleased with his top finishers, all of whom he saw important aspects of growth.

For Hall it was about not buckling under the weight of being the favorite in his weight, for Stepro it was about being able to refocus after losing a match to a wrestler in the duals and then having to face him on Saturday, and for Eixenberger it was about not shying away from a big moment.

“I’m really pleased with my champions,” Miller said. “Judson was the favorite in his weight class and showed why all day. Dakota got a big one for himself today. The Post Falls kid (whom he defeated in the championship) is a defending state champ and somebody that Dakota has struggled with in the past. Today he never panicked, found his points and dominated the third period to get his title. Austin exorcised some demons this weekend. An Orofino kid beat him in the dual on Friday so coming back and beating the same kid in the semifinals in a hard fought match was big for him, and then beating the state runner up from Clearwater Valley in such a controlled and dominating way really showed how good Austin is developing.”

It wasn’t just champions though, Miller really liked what he saw from his team from top to bottom, nine other Wildcat grapplers placed inside the top six for their respective weight classes.

“We again had a very solid day that ended really well for us,” Miller said. “We continue to hang around and give ourselves chances to win matches which shows some grit. All of our kids wrestled hard and I think we made a solid step forward this week. I like how this team competed all weekend. We got good results from the young guys, especially Raymond Heely, Wyatt Hei and Jace Garcia, all medaling.”

At the core of the event, Miller and his coaching staff were all excited to once again celebrate the Wild family, despite the recent passing of George’s wife Delilah (a longtime supporter of KHS wrestling), they were honored by the presence of George and Delilah’s family.

“It was a good weekend,” Miller said. “It's always good to see the Wild Family. George and Delilah's daughter, Tina St. Clair represented the family and was joined by George and Delilah's niece Linda Wild and grandson Dakota Wild, who wrestled in the George Wild a few years ago for Post Falls.”

Kellogg has some big matchups this week including the Coeur d’Alene Quad on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at CDA High School, followed by the Tri-State Tournament at North Idaho College this Friday and Saturday (both days begin at 10 a.m.).

GEORGE WILD MEMORIAL TEAM SCORES

1-Post Falls 291, 2-Timberlake 206.5, 3-Bonners Ferry 167, 4-Kellogg 132, 5-Lakeland 115, 6-Clearwater Valley 111, 7-Potlatch 110, 8-St. Maries 81.5, 9-Orofino 77.5, 10-Post Falls "B" 74, 11-Sandpoint 73.5, 12-Priest River 57, 13-Eureka 55, 14-Flathead 41, 15-Lake City 39.5, 16-Lewiston 25, 17-Grangeville 7

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