Utah's best prep wrestlers to compete at 2014 Simplii All-Star Match

By Brian Preece

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Jan. 3 2014 1:45 p.m. MST

For the past 14 years, the best of the best in Utah wrestling talent has gathered for the Utah Amateur Wrestling Foundation (UAWF) All-Star Dual.

Once again the Utah Valley’s UCCU Event Center will host the event on Tuesday, Jan. 7. But this year’s event will have some major changes, one of which is a title sponsor. The event, which pits the best wrestlers in the state from the five different classifications, will now be called the Simplii All-Star Match.

The Simplii All-Star Match will also see a major shift in structure from previous all-star dual events.

When the UAWF All-Star dual was created, it featured just two teams as the 1A, 2A and 3A combined to form a team and took on a team comprised of 4A and 5A wrestlers. Then in 2009, the event evolved to a four-team affair with each classification having its own team save the 1A and 2A classifications, which combined to make one squad.

But this year, the 1A and 2A classifications will have their own separate teams. In past years there were “wildcard” matches that featured some of the best wrestlers in the state that might not have been the chosen participants from their classifications. However, with the creation of separate 1A and 2A teams, it created an odd number of teams. The solution was to create an entire wildcard team. As in the past five years, three mats will be used and there will be a total of 84 wrestlers and 42 bouts.

Jeff Newby, one of the members of the UAWF Simplii All-Star Match selection committee, thinks going to the new format is the right move.

“I like the new format as it gives more wrestlers the opportunity to compete in this great event,” said Newby. “We (the selection committee) felt that more kids were deserving and that the 1A and 2A should have the chance to field their own teams.”

One of the best matchups should take place at 132 pounds when Cedar City’s Dusty Hone takes on Maple Mountain’s Taylor LaMont.

Hone is a senior going for a rare fourth state title while LaMont is a sophomore who is a returning state champion with an impressive national and international pedigree. Both Hone and LaMont competed last month at the Reno Tournament of Champions. Hone was one of three champions from the Beehive State while LaMont placed third, competing at 126 pounds.

At 138 pounds, Alta’s Matt Findlay, who has battled Hone in this event twice, will take on Maple Mountain’s Johnny O’hearon this year. Findlay is a senior going for his fourth state title while O’hearon, a junior, won The Rumble last year.

Another intriguing match at 138 pounds has Delta’s Victor Almanza doing battle with Corner Canyon’s Greg Lamb, a wildcard entry. Almanza finished second in 3A, falling to Hone in the finals, but has been basically unbeatable this year. Meanwhile, Lamb placed third in state last year for Alta but now dons his singlet for Corner Canyon, giving the school its first all-star dual participant in school history.

At 220 pounds, two state champions will do battle when Roy Nash of Taylorsville battles Kearns’ Colton Grossaint. With the new alignment, Kearns moved down to 4A. Last year, Nash won the 220-pound 5A state title and was the only undefeated wrestler in the state. Grossaint won the 195-pound 5A title but has moved up a weight class this season.

Another match to watch will be at 285 pounds between Pleasant Grove’s Zac Dawe and Uintah’s Cole Mair. Dawe is a two-time state champion who like Hone won the Reno Tournament of Champions. Mair was the 3A champion last year and took home the gold at the very tough Layton Invitational this season.