High school wrestling: Box Elder Bees sting opponents at Region 5 meet
BRIGHAM CITY — A swarm of killer bees is able to ambush other colonies and overtake hives for its own. Anyone who has witnessed the onslaught on "Animal Planet" realizes how intimidating an insect the size of a U.S. quarter can be. In the case of Region 5 wrestling, it’s awfully apparent which program has the swarm of killer bees.
Box Elder, an undisputed wrestling powerhouse, once again took care of business in a region championship. As a result, the Bees tasted another honey-sweet region title after a 439.5-347.5 win over second-place Mountain Crest on Thursday in front of an animated crowd on its home mat.
“I knew Mountain Crest would be tough and our region is good,” Box Elder coach Mike Ripplinger said. “I was proud of the way our kids wrestled.”
Sky View (153.0), Logan (122.5), Roy (89.0) and Bonneville (28.0) rounded out the standings.
The 14 individual medalists were: Box Elder’s Jace Tilley (106 pounds), Box Elder's Kyle Smith (113 pounds), Box Elder's Jake Smith (120 pounds), Mountain Crest’s Brady Dart (126 pounds), Mountain Crest's Rayden Lindley (132 pounds), Box Elder’s Teagan Hubbard (138 pounds), Mountain Crest’s Jordan Wengreen (145 pounds), Mountain Crest's Kaden Lindley (152 pounds), Box Elder’s Rasten Yeates (160 pounds), Box Elder's Nick Sorenson (170 pounds), Box Elder's Jake Tolman (182 pounds), Box Elder's Breckin Gunter (195 pounds), Box Elder's Joe Flores (220 pounds) and Logan’s Jacoby Wildman (285).
In wrestling, although the individual champion in the weight classification earns the largest amount of points, the other placers actually play a more significant role in the overall team score. In Box Elder’s case, the Bees' depth obviously played dividends with grapplers earning second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth places in groves throughout the 14 divisions.
“Going into it I wasn’t sure were our JV kids in the lower weights were going to place,” Ripplinger said. “I think they all placed except maybe two, so that was a good finish for us. I was real happy with that. We had three freshman qualify for state so not a bad start.”
Box Elder’s Yeates, who's typically considered one of the best wrestlers the state of Utah has to offer, was one of nine Box Elder grapplers to claim individual medals with a 6-0 decision over Logan’s Hunter Ballam. Mountain Crest had the second largest individual champions haul with four.
In the championship round, all 14 matches featured at least one wrestler from either Box Elder or Mountain Crest — winning all but one— and on eight occasions the two programs went mono-a-mono in the final round. Logan’s Wildman was the lone wrestler to break through with a 5-2 decision over Box Elder’s Kohler Smoot in the heavyweights.
“I think there was a couple matches — 'cause we beat a couple Roy kids to get into the finals,” Ripplinger said about the blatant disparity in the championship round. “I think Mountain Crest beat a couple kids by one point, but it just happened to be that we both matched up pretty good.”
Easily the best match of the night occurred in the 132-pound weight division between Mountain Crest’s Rayden Lindley and Box Elder’s Shand Hardy. With the score tied at 1-1 in sudden-death overtime (first player with takedown wins) Lindley powered through Hardy, slamming him on the pads to an eruption of Mustang faithful, for the well-earned hand raise.
The top six players in each weight class qualified for the state tournament at Utah Valley University next week. Box Elder led with 20 qualifiers.