High school wrestling: Defending state champs look to defend their crowns

By Ryan Love

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Feb. 10 2014 7:45 p.m. MST

at the Utah High School All-Star Wrestling meet at Utah Valley University Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, in Orem.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

WEST VALLEY CITY — With the 2014 high school wrestling state tournaments just a few short days away, the reigning state champs — Pleasant Grove, Maple Mountain, Delta, Millard and Altamont — are ready to attempt to add another trophy to their collections. The rest of the state hopes to dethrone them.

Heading into what promises to be a weekend of intrigue and entertainment, here's a class-by-class look at the upcoming wrestling state tournaments:

Class 5A

Defending state champion Pleasant Grove returns eight state placers from last year, including individual champs Benjamin Anderson (120 pounds, 46-7), Kyson Levin (113, 45-5), T.J. Wind (170, 39-14) and Zachary Dawe (285, 46-1).

All four wrestlers took home first place in the 5A divisional A qualifier last week and three of the four won their matches in the All-Star Dual back in January.

As a team, the Vikings completely dominated the 5A divisional A qualifier, easily capturing the title while qualifying 22 wrestlers for the state tournament. With such a dominant squad set to compete in the state tournament again this year, the Vikings are definitely the clear-cut favorite to win their fourth straight title.

Herriman finished right behind Pleasant Grove in second place in the 5A divisional A qualifier with 319 points, and should have the best chance at dethroning the Vikings for the first time in four years.

The Mustangs qualified 17 wrestlers for the state tournament, including individual champ Jaron Jensen (30-7) from the 132-pound weight class.

Other qualifiers include Drake Hale (106, 2-4), Chandler Strand (120, 39-6), Hayden Hewitt (126, 12-10), Cole Clark (132, 11-13), Tony Trujillo (138, 26-14), Trey Giles (138, 26-14), Colton French (145, 8-10), Taylor Brundage (152, 28-15), Kenner French (160, 35-8), Shane French (170, 28-10), Dylan Swenson (170, 17-9), Drew Hale (182, 31-10), Wade French (195, 37-9), Cannon Newman (220, 6-6), Stone Segala (220, 11-17) and Conner Birch (285, 10-16).

Pleasant Grove and Herriman will also be facing a young and talented Jordan team. The Beetdiggers qualified 14 wrestlers from the 5A divisional A qualifier and finished in third place in the team standings.

Jordan finished with one individual champ, Tayler Johnson (145, 37-7), while Clay Moss (195, 29-7) took home second place in his weight class.

There are obviously no guarantees in the world of sports, but with eight returning state placers — including four individual state champions — the Vikings should be considered a definite favorite in 5A.

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

Class 4A

As expected, Maple Mountain took care of business and earned the top spot in the Region 8 tournament. However, the razor-thin margin was way too close for comfort for the Golden Eagles.

“I think it really will come down to us and Box Elder, but there are always teams that you cannot look past,” said Maple Mountain 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.”

Maple Mountain squeezed past both Salem Hills (331.5) and Wasatch (316) to take home the region title with 342.5 team points.

The Golden Eagles completely dominated the lower weight divisions, as they took first place in all five weight divisions spanning from 113 to 138 pounds, along with the 152- and 170-pound weight divisions.