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Student in the Spotlight: Sandpoint High School Wrestler Andrew Duke

Dominating the Mat

Sandpoint High School Wrestler Andrew Duke


 By Christian Weaner

Sandpoint High School (SHS) senior Andrew Duke is no stranger to overcoming adversity — he has been doing it his whole life. But the trial he faced this winter — tearing his labrum after starting the wrestling season 5-0 — has probably been the toughest test yet.

“My dreams were dashed,” Andrew recalled. “Not being able to wrestle and watch everyone else practice and compete has been the hardest thing I've ever experienced.”

However, Andrew has never given up, and his story of resilience and determination has become an inspiration to many.

Andrew has always been athletic, but he did not start wrestling until middle school. Even then, his small frame was an added challenge he had to overcome.

“As a small kid, I was extremely outweighed and outmuscled my first year,” Andrew remembered. “But I had a passion for wrestling, and I was determined to become better — I wanted to win.”

After practice every day, Andrew would go to the gym and work out, then go home and do some extra drills with his dad.“[My dad] always saw my potential and believed in me, even when I was small and getting beat,” Andrew reflected. “He helped me to see that I could do things I didn't know I could do.”Both of Andrew’s parents encouraged him to grow off the mat as well, and he has found a lot of success academically — even in subjects that are not his strong suit.

After graduating this spring, Andrew plans to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before attending Utah State to study dentistry with the goal of becoming an orthodontist.

Currently, Andrew enjoys many of the outdoor activities that Sandpoint has to offer, including backpacking, fly fishing and hunting.

Up until his senior year, Andrew also competed on the Bulldogs soccer team, but he opted not to play in the fall and instead trained for wrestling season.

After the strong start followed by the debilitating shoulder injury, Andrew slowly worked his way back, and despite not being 100 percent, he competed during the final two weeks of the season. Incredibly, he won the 4A District I Championship for his weight class and earned a state tournament spot — a testament to his unceasing drive to compete.

Once again, it was never easy for Andrew, but he never gave up.

“I enjoy what wrestling has taught me and done for my life,” Andrew explained. “Throughout the last four years of high school wrestling, I've learned most how to deal with hard things, how to keep on going when my mind and body say to quit.”

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