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When the Hawks were kings

'79, '80 teams to be honored

 

January 23, 2020

FOREVER CHAMPIONS - The 1979 and 1980 Thompson Falls State B-C wrestling championship teams will be honored with a special ceremony during Friday's triangular dual match at TFHS. Rich DeWitt (upper photo far right standing) was the head coach, and Nick Carter (upper photo far left standing) the assistant coach for both championship teams, still the only wrestling team champions in Sanders County sports history.

Jimmy Carter was the President of the United States but Ronald Reagan had just been voted in and would soon be taking his place in the Oval Office when the 1979-80 prep wrestling season began.

In the Pacific Northwest, Mount St. Helens was rumbling mightily but Harry R. Truman was still holding on to his hotel and living dangerously on the shores of nearby Spirit Lake, after he had repeatedly been told to leave.

If you were watching television at that time – and everyone was in those days of pre-internet, limited media entertainment – you knew who J.R. Ewing was, and you knew he lived in Dallas.

Although the year 1980 seems so long ago now it remains famous for many things (also including the debut of Rubik's Cube, the U.S. hockey team's "Miracle on Ice" in the Olympics, and the launch of the CNN news channel for a few highlights), in Thompson Falls it is best known as the year that the Blue Hawk wrestling team won the second of two straight State B-C titles.

In an effort to honor those great teams, who to this date have won the only two State B-C wrestling team titles in school history, Thompson Falls High School will hold a special ceremony for any and all members of those teams – coaches, wrestlers, managers, cheerleaders, etc. – who show up Friday night.

FOREVER CHAMPIONS - The 1979 and 1980 Thompson Falls State B-C wrestling championship teams will be honored with a special ceremony during Friday's triangular dual match at TFHS. Rich DeWitt (upper photo far right standing) was the head coach, and Nick Carter (upper photo far left standing) the assistant coach for both championship teams, still the only wrestling team champions in Sanders County sports history.

With a triangular dual match set up between Thompson Falls, Priest River and the Polson JV, Blue Hawk coach Mike Thilmony is hoping a lot of the team members, and a lot of mat fans, show up for the proceedings Friday.

"I know there has been a committee trying to get hold of everyone they can, but we don't really know who will make it Friday," he said. "It's been 40 years since they pulled off the back-to-back state titles, and it is time to honor them for what they accomplished.

"Winning one state championship is impressive," he added, "but to win two in a row, that truly is something special."

Thilmony said the three schools will trade off opponents for three dual matches Friday beginning at 6 p.m. The honors ceremony for the '79 and '80 teams will be held after the first round of dual matches is completed.

"We plan on lining them up on the mat and honoring them there," he said.

Some will likely be putting their feet on a Thompson Falls wrestling mat for the first time in 40 years. And what better place to be honored for what they did for the school, the community and themselves so many years ago?

 

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