High school wrestling: Defending state champs look promising again this season

By Ryan Love

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Dec. 9 2013 10:20 p.m. MST

Zachary Dawe of Pleasant Grove, top, wrestles and pins Dalton Mortensen of Granger in a 5A, 285 pound quarterfinal state wrestling match at Utah Valley University in Orem, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

The high school wrestling season is kicking off with multiple meets across the state, and if those early meets are any indication, defending state champs Pleasant Grove, Maple Mountain, Delta, Millard and Altamont will all be very tough to beat this season.

Here’s a class-by-class look at the upcoming wrestling season:

Class 5A

Defending state champion Pleasant Grove returns eight state placers, including individual champions Benjamin Anderson (106), Kyson Levin (113), T.J. Wind (160) and Zachary Dawe (285), and is definitely favored to win its fourth straight state title.

Despite returning such a talented and experienced squad this year, Pleasant Grove coach Brock Moore knows they can’t get ahead of themselves.

"It's too early to tell. We haven't wrestled anyone in 5A yet; we'll find out how we are in a couple weeks," said Moore.

It might be too early to set in stone, but with eight returning state placers, including four individual state champs, the Vikings should be considered a definite favorite in 5A.

Viewmont finished six spots back from the Vikings last year and returns only two state placers in David Kim (126) and Jake Van Valkenburg (220), but head coach Brandon Ripplinger expects his team to make some noise along the way.

"Anything can happen throughout the season, you always have that element to it. But year in and year out, the numbers don't lie too often. P.G. would be upset if they get beat with what they have back this year," said Ripplinger.

Pleasant Grove and Viewmont also will be facing a talented Layton team. The Lancers are returning seven state placers from last year, including defending state champion Andrew Astle (120) and second-place finishers Colton Marshal (160) and Landon Brown (182).

Other returning individual state champs in 5A are Alta’s Matt Findlay (126), Syracuse’s Teague Vigil (152), Jordan’s Clayton Moss (182), Kearns’ Colton Grossaint (195) and Taylorsville’s Roy Nash (220).

Class 4A

Maple Mountain took care of business and handled Box Elder once again by 60 points to claim last year’s 4A state title.

However, if the beginning of the wrestling season is any indicator of what is to come, expect a few teams to give the Golden Eagles a run for their money.

Box Elder and Mountain Crest, which finished in second and third place in last year’s state tournament, will both be a serious contender to capture a state title this year.

"I think the championship this year really will come down to us and Box Elder, but there are always teams that you cannot look past," said Maple Mountain assistant coach Jeff Roylance. "The overall level of wrestling has risen so much over the past few years that each weight class has several excellent wrestlers that can beat anyone on any given day."

The two-time defending state champs looked sharp at the annual Wrestling Against Cancer Duals, crushing Herriman, 54-15.

The Bees are also coming off impressive wins against Sky View and Syracuse, while the Mustangs easily took care of business against Fremont.

Maple Mountain returns two individual state champions and multiple other state placers, while Box Elder returns five state placers and Mountain Crest returns six placers. The Golden Eagles’ returning champs are Kimball Bastian (160) and Taylor LaMont (113).

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