Ravell Call, Deseret News
OREM — Day 1 of the 5A state wrestling championships featured competitive matches and plenty of drama.
At the end of it all, defending state champion Pleasant Grove sits on top of the 5A heap. Other schools, such as Layton and Syracuse, are nipping at the Vikings' heels, however, heading into what looks like an exciting final day of competition Thursday.
“The best thing about state this year is how intense every match is this year compared to last year when you’d see some pretty big mismatches,” said Layton coach John Fager. “You have defending state champions winning by just a couple of points in the quarterfinals, so it’s really making it fun and I expect a great and competitive day tomorrow.”
Pleasant Grove secured 128 team points on Day 1, followed closely by Layton (103) and Syracuse (98.5). The Vikings placed 10 of their wrestlers into the semifinals, led by heavyweight Zac Dawe, who made quick work of Granger’s Dalton Mortensen in the quarterfinals.
“I think we could do better, but we’re doing OK,” Dawe said. “We can’t take any match for granted if we’re going to win this thing and we need a complete team effort. It’s great being the defending champion, but it comes with a lot of pressure because you’re the team everyone is aiming for.”
Dawe is the heavy favorite in the 285 class as is teammate and defending state champion Kyson Levin in the 113 weight class.
Before Pleasant Grove can repeat it will have to stave off both Layton and Syracuse, who are keeping it close heading into the final day. Layton started a bit slow Wednesday, but closed strong to trail by just 25 points.
“We’ve put as many guys in the semifinals as we’ve ever done, so I’m very happy about that,” Fager said. “We went head-to-head against (Pleasant Grove) a few times today, but unfortunately lost too many of those, so that makes it tough to catch them. I think if we can get a few things going our way that we could win this thing, but it’s going to be very tough.”
The Lancers placed eight wrestlers into the semifinal round to give them a legitimate chance of catching the Vikes.
Syracuse yielded second place to Layton late in Day 1, but could quickly make up that ground Thursday, given its eight semifinalists. Coach Troy Brown understands that things can change quickly in the state tournament and hopes things break his school's way Thursday.
“This tournament is always a roller-coaster, but we’ve (had) some good highs so far,” he said. “We lost a couple I don’t think we should have, but we’ll have to come back and be better and hopefully make up for those tomorrow.”
5A state wrestling meet
1. Pleasant Grove, 128; 2. Layton, 103; 3. Syracuse, 98.5; 4. Fremont, 70; 5. Weber, 58.5; 6. Viewmont, 47; 7. Davis, 38; 8. Bingham, 36; 9. Jordan, 33.5; 10. Cottonwood, 29.5.
106 — Benjamin Anderson, Pleasant Grove vs. Braxton Ocana, Layton; Kade Evans, Davis vs. Brock George, Syracuse.
113 — Kyson Levin, Pleasant Grove vs. Colton Berger, Syracuse; Jacob Knapp, Cottonwood vs. Jacob Barton, Bingham.
120 — Landon Gates, Pleasant Grove vs. Andrew Astle, Layton; Jaydon Rogers, Fremont vs. Tanner Luke, Viewmont.
126 — Matt Findlay, Alta vs. Porter Thomas, Lone Peak; Andrew Bartholomew, American Fork vs. Antonio Meikel, Kearns.
132 — Zach Colangelo, West vs. Bronson Young, Pleasant Grove; A.J. Arteaga, Fremont vs. Jake Garver, Syracuse.
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