BONNERS FERRY — With a packed parking lot, the smell of food, and the sound of chatter and laughter wafting out of the doors into the Bonners Ferry High School leading towards the gymnasium, the Bonners Ferry Folkstyle North Idaho Wrestling League (NIWL) tournament on Saturday, Oct. 21 brought many families to Bonners Ferry. The tournament brought kindergarteners to eighth graders together from all over North Idaho, western Montana, and eastern Washington to compete for the most points in their wrestling classes. With determined faces, these young boys and girls showcased their drive to win.
Over the years, these tournaments held for the younger kids have evolved to become more attuned to the kids and to be more wrestler friendly.
“We really have a caring group of supporters and that has really changed the way tournaments are ran,” said Mike Randles, the President of NIWL. “We have these little guys here, and they used to spend 10-12 hours in the gym, and now they spend maybe 2-3 hours. Through technology and people like Conrad Garner, that put kids first, it’s really evolved what we can do for the kids. The leagues expanded, kids are getting out of here sooner, The idea with our league is non-pressure, and kids have fun.”
Conrad Garner is the Dean of Students and the Athletic Director at Bonners Ferry High School, and he has been involved with the NIWL beginning with being the assistant of Jim Whitman. Whitman and Bob Schreber jointly brought the NIWL to the area about 30 years ago.
With the first couple tournaments overlapping with fall sports such as football and soccer, the last few tournaments have grown into larger events, which was displayed on Saturday with the multitude of attendants.
The classes are Middle School, Novice, Intermediate, and Bantam. Each class is separated into subclasses according to weight in order to keep the matches equal. With the wide array of participants, the following is how the Bonners Ferry kids placed.
The Middle School classes first place winners are Jacob Summerfield with the score of 20 team points, Marcus Regehr with 9 team points, Eli Richards with 6 team points, and Andrew Sandelin with 9 team points. Second place winners are Jackson Rickter with the score of 4 team points, Savannah Rickter with 3 team points, and Jordan Freeman placed third with the score of 9 team points.
For the Novice classes, Israel Johnson placed second with the score of 12 team points, Dylan Cook placed second with 14 team points, and Tristan Sanders also placed second with 10 team points.
For the Intermediate classes, first place winners are Kai Aitken with the score of 6 team points, Keenan Maas with 21 team points, Stryder Liermann with 19.50 team points, Gaige Johnson with 24 team points, and Maddox Mertzweiller with 18 team points. Second place winners are Alex Stolley with the score of 14 team points, and Gabriel Warren with 0 team points. From there the placements jump to fourth place, and the awards were earned by Matthew McCabe with 6 team points, Grayson Falck with 6 team points, Tony Miller with 6 team points, and Cooper Higgins with 5 team points.
For the Bantam classes, there were third place finishers, and they are Jayden Carey with 12.50 team points, Brody Swift with 10 team points, and Grady Atkins with 9 team points.
The next NIWL tournament will be held in Kellogg on Oct. 28, followed by a meet in Rathdrum on Nov. 4, and ending the season in Sandpoint on Nov. 11.
To view a more detailed list of the placements, visit www.trackwrestling.com, hit browse and from there click on Tournaments and search Bonners Ferry in the events, then search class and weight, or visit www.bonnersferryherald.com or www.facebook.com/bonnerferry.herald for a link.