As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more things stay the same.
At it pertains to prep wrestling in the state of Idaho, what has changed is that girls wrestling is now sanctioned in the same way as boys wrestling.
What has stayed the same is that girls will be out there in the circle, just like they have been for years.
The Idaho High School Activities Association will hold a girls state wrestling championship at Holt Arena, handing out medals on Feb. 26.
“I think the state of Idaho has taken a step in the right direction, and its super exciting for the girls to have their own tournament,” Thunder Ridge coach Jody Webb said.
At a recent event in Blackfoot, Thunder Ridge, Ririe and the Broncos put more than 40 girls out on the mats, and the reception was intense.
Not only was the facility packed to the rafters, the fans were making so much noise that it was difficult for wrestlers to hear coaches during matches.
“The fans were going crazy,” Webb said. “Fans are excited and the wrestling is better than ever. It’s going good.”
With a 1.5 point win the 2021 5A District 5-6 championships, Thunder Ridge carried its banner a whisker higher than the rest.
“Rigby has better numbers this year, Madison always has big numbers, and Highland is always tough,” Webb said. “I expect it to be a dogfight again this year.”
Coach Webb sees that success carrying over to the early part of this season, with wins over Eagle, Borah, and a near-miss against Capital.
Blackfoot and Bonneville remain deep and the teams to beat in District 6 4A, with Blackfoot dominating the 2021 district championships over the Bees 390.5 to 278.
South Fremont remains the team to beat in 3A District 6, backing up its 2020 title with another in 2021.
And in ever season since 2017, the team that wind the Mountain Rivers Conference championship goes on to win the state championship as well.
The Cougars got to the top of the 2021 state podium with top-3 finishes from Jaxton Packer, David Green, Kolby Clark, Hunter Hobbs, River Eddins and Kash Purser.
Ririe looks to rebound after finishing 54 points back of New Plymouth — which was a fine showing for the Bulldogs by almost any measure.
It just so happens the Bulldogs had finished first in each of the previous six state tournaments, setting a 2A state record for consecutive championships, and tying Teton’s all-classification mark.
This season the pressure to repeat is off the table, and its going to be all about what happens in the circle.
“Winning it the first time people don’t really expect you coming,” 220-pound state champion and Ririe standout Gabe Sommers said after the 2021 state tournament. “But once you win it again everyone is gunning for you and you’ve got everything to lose and they have nothing to lose. It’s a lot of pressure.”