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Bonners Ferry’s Savannah Rickter well on her way to becoming a North Idaho legend

by MAX OSWALD
Sports Reporter | April 2, 2024 1:15 AM

Bonners Ferry senior Savannah Rickter is not just an inspiration to many — she is also a role model, a leader, and a trailblazer who has cemented herself in history as one of the best female wrestlers to come through North Idaho.

In front of Rickter’s club wrestling team last week, she received the Character & Leadership All-American Award from the National Wrestling Coaches Association & the United States Marine Corps. The award was presented to Rickter by none other than Conrad Garner, a man who touched the lives of many in Boundary County both on and off the wrestling mat. 

Garner, who was inducted into the Idaho Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2013, has coached Rickter since the age of five years old. Over his 30-plus year coaching career he has coached numerous Idaho State champions, collegiate All-Americans, and USA All-Americans, most of whom he taught from a very young age. Rickter is another shining example of how impactful Garner was to so many. 

In the winter of 2019, right around the time of Garner’s retirement, Rickter, an eighth grader at the time, was named the first female team captain of her middle school wrestling team — she was also the only girl on the team at that time. With a limited amount of girls wrestling roughly four years ago, Rickter wrestled boys throughout the district and eventually earned a spot at the 2019 Idaho Middle School Girls State Championship. At 130 pounds, Rickter wrestled all girls for the first time ever and placed second … her first taste of success on the big stage, with much more to come.

Rickter, who has been wrestling in all three wrestling styles since a young age (Greco-Roman, Freestyle, and Folkstyle) has built up quite the track record. Despite facing adversity, which included having two major surgeries during her freshman year of high school, nothing stopped her from accomplishing anything she set her mind to. 

Rickter is a three-time District 1-2 Champion and led Bonners Ferry to the district title in 2022 (the first year the sport was sanctioned) and 2024. She is also a two-time Greco-Roman state champion, two-time Freestyle state silver medalist, three-time North Idaho Rumble champion, and has qualified for the Idaho’s National Dual team since eighth grade. Dominating her weight class in North Idaho for years, she has also branched out and competed all across the country. 

Rickter was second at two major tournaments in Montana, only being taken down by the eventual Montana state champion. She has competed at the 2023 Western States Turf Wars in Farmington, Utah, where she went a combined 8-1 for Team Idaho in Greco-Roman and Freestyle. In 2022, Rickter also traveled to Tulsa, Okla., to compete in the 2022 Junior National Duals where she went a combined 5-3. Over the years, she has qualified for Fargo Junior Nationals twice, an event that is set to be held July 12-20 this year at the FargoDome in North Dakota.

Even after the end of her high school career, Rickter is still competing at a high level. She intends to compete at the Tri-Cities Women’s Columbia Cup, the Women's National Championships (Spokane), and the Idaho State Freestyle and Greco-Roman Championships (Twin Falls), all of which will occur over the next three weeks.

Rickter’s mother, Kristie, has been along for the ride ever since Savannah set out on her journey. She said it has been an amazing one and is excited for her daughter’s next chapter.

“She has worked so hard at a sport she absolutely loves and has made history in our little neck of the woods, [all] while growing women’s wrestling and laying a solid foundation for future female wrestlers,” Savannah’s mother said. “She has done it with much integrity and leadership. I’m so proud of her and am even more proud of the woman she is choosing to be. I will never forget the village it took to love, support and encourage her.”

Rickter’s journey, however, is far from over as she is currently being recruited by college coaches from schools all over the country. When she eventually commits to a school, she will be the first girl to wrestle collegiately from Bonners Ferry High School — just one more thing to add to the history books and to Rickter's already impressive legacy.