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.
Then at 170 pounds look for an entertaining affair as Maple Mountain’s Kimball Bastian battles Juab’s Dalton Harmon. Bastian won the Reno Tournament of Champions and is a returning state champion while Harmon placed second in 3A last season. Harmon’s best win this season was when he knocked off Salem Hill’s Jacob Armstrong in the championship finals at the Skyhawk Showdown.
Armstrong, a returning 4A state champion, has since dropped down to 160 pounds, placing second at Reno. He will also compete in this event and will take on Pleasant Grove’s Baily Carlson, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the 5A ranks.
Tickets for the event will be $10 and all proceeds will go to support the Utah Valley wrestling program. Prior to the high school event slated to start at 7 p.m., there will be five matches featuring some top junior high and middle school talent. These matches commence at 6:15 p.m.
Here are the scheduled matches:
106 pounds — Cameron Hunsaker (American Fork-5A) vs. Jaxon Cole (North Summit-2A)
106 pounds — Nelson Jones (Pleasant Grove-Wildcard) vs. Cooper Skinner (Bear River-3A)
106 pounds — Braiden Parker (Wasatch-4A) vs. David Van Tassell (Duchesne-1A)
113 pounds — Kyson Levin (Pleasant Grove-5A) vs. Josh Allen (Delta-2A)
113 pounds — Tanner Cox (Maple Mountain-4A) vs. Brock George (Syracuse-Wildcard)
113 pounds — Cameron Dickinson (Richfield-3A) vs. Tanner Jeffries (Wayne-1A)
120 pounds — Ryan Hansen (Maple Mountain-4A) vs. Matt Lee (South Summit-2A)
120 pounds — Chandler Strand (Herriman-5A) vs. Jayden Pentz (Morgan-3A)
120 pounds — Josh Jensen (Payson-Wildcard) vs. Brady Farnsworth (Altamont-1A)
126 pounds — Riley Loveless (Payson-3A) vs. Ben Anderson (Pleasant Grove-5A)
126 pounds — Kedric Coonis (Uintah-Wildcard) vs. Trent Kelly (Maple Mountain-4A)
126 pounds — Bracken Lovell (Delta 2A) vs. Hunter Bowring (Monticello-1A)
132 pounds — Dusty Hone (Cedar City-3A) vs. Taylor LaMont (Maple Mountain-4A)
132 pounds — Jaydon Rogers (Fremont-5A) vs. McCrae Thatcher (Millard-2A)
132 pounds — Zach Allen (Piute-1A) vs. Andrew Bartholomew (American Fork-Wildcard)
138 pounds — Matt Findlay (Alta-5A) vs. Johnny O'hearon (Maple Mountain-4A)
138 pounds — Hagen Loveless (Payson-3A) vs. Brandon Musselman (Monticello-1A)
138 pounds — Victor Almanza (Delta-2A) vs. Greg Lamb (Corner Canyon-Wildcard)
145 pounds — Branson Ashworth (Spanish Fork-4A) vs. Beau Blackham (Uintah-3A)
145 pounds — Teague Vigil (Syracuse-5A) vs. Cameron Killian (Maple Mountain-Wildcard)
145 pounds — Dillon Thurston (North Sevier-2A) vs. Preston Stephenson (Wayne-1A)
152 pounds — Matt Williams (Box Elder-4A) vs. Brendon Sorenson (North Sevier-2A)
152 pounds — McKay Prince (Hurricane-3A) vs. Cole Eldredge (Monticello-1A)
152 pounds — Colton Marshall (Layton-5A) vs. Walker Van Tassell (Salem Hills-Wildcard)
160 pounds — Jacob Armstrong (Salem Hills 4A) vs. Bailey Carlson (Pleasant Grove-5A)
160 pounds — Lucas Batin (Dixie-3A) vs. Jordan Wengreen (Mountain Crest-Wildcard)
160 pounds — Tyler Gamble (Millard-2A) vs. Dakota Clark (Rich-1A)
170 pounds — Kimball Bastian (Maple Mountain-5A) vs. Dalton Harmon (Juab-3A)
170 pounds — TJ Wind (Pleasant Grove-5A) vs. Rylee Foy (Altamont-1A)
170 pounds — Travis Gillman (Beaver-2A) vs. Kaden Campbell (Union-Wildcard)
182 pounds — Micah Gill (Mountain View-4A) vs. Will Lang (West-5A)
182 pounds — Dylan Brown (Manti-2A) vs. Wyatt Koelling (Davis-Wildcard)
182 pounds — Austin Wilcox (Monticello-1A) vs. Hunter Neville (Desert Hills-3A)
195 pounds — Breckin Gunter (Box Elder-4A) vs. Cody Stevenson (Desert Hills-3A)
195 pounds — Landon Brown (Layton-5A) vs. David Schena (Delta-2A)
195 pounds — Clay Moss (Jordan-Wildcard) vs. Tony Brown (Altamont-1A)
220 pounds — Roy Nash (Taylorsville-5A) vs. Colton Grossaint (Kearns-4A)
220 pounds — Austin Taylor (Pleasant Grove-Wildcard) vs. Derek Johnson (Payson-3A)
220 pounds — Jesse Durrant (North Sevier-2A) vs. Rowdy Josie (Panguitch-1A)
285 pounds — Zac Dawe (Pleasant Grove-5A) vs. Cole Mair (Uintah-3A)
285 pounds — Micah Ngatuvai (Mountain View-4A) vs. Brackin Stringham (Lehi-Wildcard)
285 pounds — Brenz Staples (North Summit-2A) vs. Hawken Cornia (Rich-1A)
Junior high 75 pounds — Gavin Ayotte vs. Van Bray
Junior high 90 pounds — Gentry Warner vs. Zak Kohler
Junior high 115 pounds — Taten Ringel vs. Brandyn Van Tassell
Junior high 130 pounds — Zac Musselman vs. Cole Moody
Junior high 135 pounds — Brock Hardy vs. John Manning
Brian Preece is a freelance sports writer and was the head wrestling coach at Provo High School from 1994 to 2006.