Navigating the high school wrestling season will be tricky, Challis head coach Bill Bradshaw said, but his Blackhearts are ready for any tribulations.

“It’ll be an interesting year, but I think we’ll be good,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw forecasted the most trouble will come with traveling, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In their athletic response plans, most Idaho high schools require visiting sports teams to adhere to their district’s COVID-19 guidelines. This potentially means different rules for every tournament and match his team of 11 participates in, Bradshaw said.

Earlier this month, Blackheart wrestlers got plenty of matches each during a weekend tournament in American Falls. Before they left for the tournament, Bradshaw said his wrestlers would have to follow stricter COVID-19 guidelines than what they were used to in Challis.

Bradshaw said no parents, fans or concessions were allowed at the event, which brought in multiple wrestling teams from across Idaho. This is different than Challis, where district staff allow one parent of athletes to attend events. This is to keep in line with Gov. Brad Little’s restriction on public gatherings, which must be capped at 10 spectators. Also, unless someone is participating in a wrestling match, everyone in attendance had to wear face coverings, according to Bradshaw.

“We’re just hoping to keep wrestling,” Bradshaw said.

Beyond the pandemic, Bradshaw predicted a good season. Multiple wrestlers who went to state last year have returned, and the wrestling coach said he hopes they can elevate their teammates.

Sophomore Hoak Corgatelli, who took fifth in the 106-pound division last year, is back, Bradshaw said. Also returning from the state tournament are juniors George Cecil and Kasen Hohnstein and sophomore Aeden Baker.

Joining the Blackhearts this season is freshman Josie Jensen, who Bradshaw said is Challis’s first girl high school wrestler.

This is part of a much larger milestone in Idaho, Bradshaw said. Due to increased interest from girls in the sport across the state, Bradshaw said female wrestling will be a sanctioned sport with its own state tournament next year.

As for this year, Bradshaw said there will be a girls’ pod at every tournament his team goes to, with the American Falls tournament being the only exception.

Bradshaw said he’s disappointed more kids didn’t join the team this year. Four wrestlers shy of filling all 15 weight classes, Bradshaw said his wrestlers are scattered from 98 pounds to 120, and up to 220.

“It’s a tough sport, not a lot of kids sign up,” Bradshaw surmised.