High school wrestling: Pleasant Grove dominates to capture third straight 5A title
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
OREM — Bridger Cutler’s individual triumph at the 5A state wrestling championships Thursday night epitomizes what Pleasant Grove wrestling is all about — grit, fight and relentless work ethic.
Down 9-1 in the third period to Layton defending state champ Ken Astle, the Pleasant Grove senior refused to concede his own dream of winning a state title. Between throwing Astle from his bread-and-butter headlock, conceding the neutral and then near falls, incredibly Cutler rallied to force overtime.
He knew it was all his after that.
“I knew he was too gassed to do anything,” said Cutler, who prevailed 16-11 for the 145-pound title.
He was one of six individual champs for Pleasant Grove, which easily captured its third straight 5A state title by racking up 288.5 team points at UCCU Center.
Syracuse finished second with 192.5 points, followed by Layton (176), Weber (109.5) and Fremont (104).
Entering the finals, Cutler had heard from fellow wrestlers that Astle might tire in the third period. That kept him believing despite the 9-1 deficit he faced in the third period.
“Best training ever. You can’t get better training than this — lifting with coach (Brock) Moore every day in December. Coach Moore has insane workouts. All the cross-fit workouts. We work harder than anyone else," Cutler said.
It’s hard to argue after another dominant Pleasant Grove performance at state.
Along with Cutler, Benjamin Anderson (106), Kyson Levin (113), Bronson Young (132), TJ Wind (160) and Zach Dawe (285) also won individual titles for Pleasant Grove.
Levin’s title was the second straight for the sophomore, and he did so in dominant fashion with an 18-3 win over Bingham’s Jacob Barton.
He was won of three repeat 5A winners. Syracuse’s Zane Rich edged Cottonwood’s Jed Diederich 6-3 at 138 pounds, while Alta’s Matt Findlay beat Kearns’ Antonio Meikel 8-0 at 126 pounds.
For Findlay, it was his third title in three years — with No. 4 within sight next year.
“It’s what you work so hard, and so long for. You dream about it. You have nightmares about it. It feels great. It’s the best feeling in the world,” said Findlay.
Findlay improved his record to 42-2 with the victory, and he’ll try and pile on more wins at the Super State Wrestling Championships at the Maverik Center next Friday and Saturday. The top six wrestlers in 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A all qualify for the first-ever super meet, in addition to the top four wrestlers in 1A.
Other individual champs Thursday night were: Layton’s Andrew Astle (120), Syracuse’s Teague Vigil (152), Weber’s Zach Huntsman (170), Jordan’s Clay Moss (182), Kearns’ Colton Grossaint (195) and Taylorsville’s Roy Nash (220).
Nash, a junior, improved to 41-0 with the victory over Pleasant Grove's Brandon Dennison. For the senior Dennison, it was a bittersweet loss on a night when six of his teammates won individual titles.
“It came down to the third. I was trying to hold him down, made a mistake and he reversed me,” said Dennison, who tired to keep the loss in perspective on a night the Vikings dominated.
“(Team title) is all about hard work adding up, practice after practice. Sometimes it seems like we’re practicing hours and hours on end, and it’s all the hard work in the end,” said Dennison.
Pleasant Grove’s state title was the 15th in school history, and more could easily follow. Wind and Dawe are both juniors, while Levin is a sophomore and Anderson is a freshman.