In his 21st season as a wrestling coach, Chris Babinski has led the Jordan Beetdiggers squad to another year with a strong showing at region and state tournaments.
Last year, Jordan sent seven wrestlers to the 5A state championship and, with seniors taking fourth place at 189 pounds and third place at 145 pounds, the team took 12th place overall in the tournament.
Now, with a younger team, Babinski has beaten that total by sending 12 wrestlers to the state tournament, held Feb. 15-16 at Utah Valley University. Two of those wrestlers took top-three finishes.
“This year we have a great team of wrestlers, from the top to the bottom,” Babinski said.
As a team, the Beetdiggers have been able to win some decisive duals and tournaments this season and entered the state tournament at third place in the region.
At 220 pounds, senior Zane Sayers had the most impressive showing at the state tournament. After winning in the first round by forfeit, he won the second round by major decision, 11-3. In the semifinal match, Sayers won by overtime decision 3-2. He then lost by a 6-1 major decision in the championship match to Tanner Palmer of Viewmont to take second place in his weight class.
Sophomore Clay Moss entered the tournament as one of the top ranked wrestlers at 170 pounds by the Utah Wrestling Coaches Association state rankings. He did not disappoint – he took third place in the tournament.
Moss won his first match by pin in 2:41 and his second by a 5-1 decision. He then lost in the third round by a close 6-5 decision. Because of the double-elimination structure of the tournament, Moss was able to continue wrestling in the concession bracket where he first won by pin in 2:23 and then won third place by injury default over Braden Gibson of West Jordan.
Senior Hayden Babka, who had also received high rankings from the Utah Wrestling Coaches Association, took sixth place in the tournament at the 182 pounds weight class after losing the fifth place match by injury default.
Along with Sayers, Moss and Babka, Jordan sent nine other wrestlers to the tournament, with a wrestler representing nearly every weight class.
Keegan Sanchez, wrestling at 113 pounds, lost by a 10-5 decision in his third match.
Joey Day, wrestling at 120 pounds, won his first match by pin, but eventually lost in his fourth match through a 10-3 decision.
Kevin Maxwell and Tayler Johnson, both wrestling at 132 pounds, were also both defeated by decision in their third matches.
At 145 pounds, Trevor Lampe was defeated in his first match by pin and then was defeated in his second match by a 9-5 decision.
Dylan Knight, wrestling at 152 pounds, lost by a 5-4 decision in his third match and Matt Vierkant, also at 152 pounds, lost by an 8-2 decision in his fourth.
Juniors Kyle Machan (106 pounds) and Richard Larsen (285 pounds), though solid hopefuls of Babinski heading into the tournament, had to forfeit their matches at state due to injury.
Scoring a total of 67 points, Jordan placed 10th as a team at the competition.
With several sophomores and juniors qualifying to compete at state, Babinski is excited for the even greater potential his team could have next year.
“That is the nature of wrestling; you have a lot of young guys who get developed, get their confidence, and then they can come back next year and perform really well,” he said.