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Legendary Wrestlers of Sandpoint High

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Mention the sport of wrestling in Sandpoint, and whose name comes to mind? Not just any one name, that’s for sure. Since 1993, more than a half dozen boys have risen to prominence as Bulldog wrestlers under the guidance of several talented coaches. And no one coach will take credit for the recent successes of the program.

    Go back to the `70s and there was Mr. Schumacher. Then came Ray Miller and Mike McNolte. Dan Taylor took over early in 1990 and now Mike Randles heads the program. They’ve all contributed to what has become one of the most successful wrestling programs in Idaho.

    The Sandpoint Bulldog wrestlers achieved national recognition in 2000/01 when Amateur Wrestling News and Wrestling USA Magazine ranked them among the top 25 high school teams in the country. And it wasn’t the first time for such an honor. In 1996 and `97 the Bulldogs were ranked nationally.

    Since that memorable season of 1993/94 when Dan Taylor took a contingent of wrestlers all the way to an improbable state title – the first for any Sandpoint High School team ever – the Bulldog’s wrestling program has gained recognition throughout the state and across the nation. Athletes like brothers Brett and Jared Lawrence, Pat Larson, Jake Rosholt and Tony Hook have led the way. But a close look at who paved the way goes back even further.

    Steve Kluver was Sandpoint’s first wrestling state champion in 1982. He was one of four brothers whom present-day head coach, Mike Randles, called “exceptional athletes.” Eight years later, Zack Taylor, son of soon-to-be head coach Dan Taylor, won his first of three state titles, a run that included 99 consecutive victories and produced Idaho’s first-ever Junior National Champion. He was Sandpoint’s first multiple state champion, and in college, at one point, he was the number one ranked wrestler in America in his weight class.

    At about the same time, Pat Larson was making a name for himself as a two-time state champion in his freshman and sophomore years.

    Two years after that “incredibly rare feat (when Zack won the JNC),” claimed Coach Randles, “is really when the program took off.”

    From `93 to `98, the Lawrence brothers won eight state titles between them in a rare display of family dominance in a single sport. Both were 4.0 students, Randles noted, and “incredibly motivated young men.” Jared was one of the few wrestlers nationwide to ever go through an entire high school wrestling career undefeated, winning all 133 of his matches. No one else has ever won four Tri State Tournaments, as he did, and twice he wrestled to a first place finish in what Coach Randles says is “considered the toughest tournament in the nation,” the Reno Tournament of Champions.

    Brett and Jared’s accomplishments framed a decade of top-notch performances by several other Bulldog wrestlers that have carried over into the new millennium. Jake Rosholt, a 2001 graduate of SHS, bore the torch of excellence through four years of success few athletes ever experience. With a high school career record of 131-8, Jake won three state Championships, he was a three-time Tri State Champion and a Reno Tournament of Champions titlist. As a junior, he marched through the Junior National Championships with 11 straight technical falls – something no other wrestler had ever done – and a year later he became Idaho’s first-ever National Senior Champion. Last spring Jake was the number one recruited high school wrestler in the nation and is now wrestling for Coach John Smith at Oklahoma State University.

    Taking up where Jake left off is Tony Hook, a senior at SHS this year and already a two-time state champion and now a three-time Tri State Champion. He just won the 152-pound weight class recently at the Tri-State Tournament. This past July, Tony received Greco Roman All American honors at Junior Nationals. Coach Randles remarked, “Tony’s the most talented athlete I’ve ever seen at the high school level.”

    The key to the program’s success, according to SHS Athletic Director Jack Dyck, has been the coaching staff. “My job,” Jack said, “is to find great coaches, and we’ve been blessed with great coaches. Dan Taylor did a phenomenal job, then Mike (Randles) stepped in and has kept the program up.” He also credited the assistants for their commitment and sacrifice: Jim Rosholt, Jesse Watson and Mike Hook presently round out the coaching staff. Jesse and Mike are volunteers, and though Jim is paid, Jack pointed out that he always donates his paycheck back to the wrestling program.

    There is no one name in Sandpoint wrestling that illustrates the continuing success of the program. For a sport that truly is a solo sport, the building of the SHS Bulldogs’ wrestling program has really been a team effort. The legends just keep writing themselves on the mat, in the gym and throughout the corridors of Sandpoint High. Look for a new legend this winter as the Bulldogs wrestle toward a new level of achievement.

    A version of this story first appeared in the Winter 2002 edition of Sandpoint Magazine. To obtain a copy, contact Keokee Creative Group at 208-263-3573.

 

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Dennis Nicholls Dennis Nicholls was the founder, publisher, janitor and paperboy of the River Journal from 1993 to 2001. He passed away in 2009.

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