High school wrestling: All-Star meet full of close matches
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
OREM — It was all that could be expected.
During the 11th annual All-Star wrestling tournament at UCCU Center on the Utah Valley University campus — every single match virtually went down to the wire.
Ironically, the first match stood out above the rest to set the tempo for the entire night.
Delta's Jace Abbott defeated Mark Michels from Alta, who was filling the shoes of an injured wrestler, 8-5 with a late takedown.
"It's confidence," stated Abbott when asked what the win provides him for the rest of the season, "I mean, it's my senior year — this is what I look forward to. This is my last time out here — my mentality is that I'm not going to lose. This is just going to help me more throughout the season."
Abbott was maintaining a late 5-4 lead while Michels was frantically trying to earn an escape point. However, surprisingly, Abbott was whistled for his second stall warning of the match — notching things even once more.
"I wasn't going to quit," said Abbott, "I didn't think that I was stallin' – I don't know? I wasn't gonna quit.
"I just came out thinkin' I gotta be in better shape. That's how I work in practice; I knew I needed to work harder than my opponent."
Another interesting match undoubtedly was between Payson's Jed Mellen and Kearns' Abraham Hernandez, with Mellen securing an astonishingly dominant 17-0 victory, after both players entered the match with second-place finishes last year.
"It was just control," remarked Mellen about his ability to walk away with such a clean victory, "I just controlled him, tilted him — that's all you need to do."
With the team format, 5A ultimately won with 40 points. The 3A squad was second with 30, while 4A had 29 and 1A/2A had 21 points.
There was, however, an extremely controversial match between Jacob Falk of West Jordan and Sky View's Brayden Anderson. The bout was tied at 1-1 as the final 10 seconds dwindled down. Then, out of the blue, Anderson was called for a stalling penalty on the last second, ending the battle at 2-1.
"I thought it was pretty ridiculous, and I think the rest fans thought so as well," said Colbey Srong, a fan in attendance, on the call. "To lose with one second left on a stalling penalty is unfortunate after a long, hard match with two great wrestlers.
"Not to take anything away from the kid that won, because he played an outstanding match, but I wish it would have gone another way."
The most anticipated match of the evening between two time champions Colton Thorton and Zach Loveless was about as thrilling as it gets. The saying goes, it's hard to beat someone twice — and that cliché phrase upheld once more with Thorton avenging last year's loss to Loveless at the All-Star match by way of a pin.
Payson and Wasatch both had great showings at the meet, each registering with 3-1 records.
The Wasps impressively played in honor of fallen teammate, Dale Lawrence, who was tragically paralyzed after a wrestling move went awry.
Several players were able to win by virtue of a pin: Courtney Orghill, Gerrit Bradley, Larson Cottam, Koleton Hardy, Dustin Dennison, Kyler Machen, Ronnie Wardleigh, Chase Wilcox, Kyle Foy and Tanner Theobald.
Wrestlers who were awarded tech fall victories were: Jantz Arbon, Taylor Skinner and Mellen.