High school wrestling: Defending state champs look to defend their crowns
Leading the way for Maple Mountain was defending state champ Taylor LaMont (132, 48-5), who took down Salem Hills’ Hunter Warren in the Region 8 championship.
Other standouts for the region champs include freshman Ryan Hansen (120, 45-10), who defeated teammate Marshall Curtis for the 120-pound title, and Tanner Cox (113, 40-11).
Maple Mountain’s other individual champions consist of Trent Kelly (126, 44-8), Johnny O’Hearon (138, 51-4), Brooks Robinson (152, 53-7) and undefeated Kimball Bastion (52-0) in the 170-pound division.
However, with Wasatch joining 4A this year, the 4A field is extremely deep and there are a few teams that could come out on top this weekend.
The teams that should give Maple Mountain a run for its money are Region 6 champion Clearfield, Region 7 champion Mountain View, Region 5 champion Mountain Crest and Region 5 runner-up Box Elder.
Clearfield qualified 11 wrestlers to the state tournament, including four individual champs in Logan Swallow (106, 34-7), Daxton Arnold (126, 21-14), Ben Bolingbroke (145, 37-9) and Kolton Burgess (170, 35-6).
“We are just going to work hard this week, take it one match at a time, and hopefully we can get all of these kids who worked hard and deserve to be here where they want to be, too,” Clearfield coach Tom Schmidt said.
Meanwhile, Mountain Crest qualified 19 wrestlers and defeated perennial league champion Box Elder in Region 5 and Mountain View completely dominated Region 7, with five individual champs with 19 wrestlers qualifying for state.
“We have got to keep winning matches that we’re not supposed to win,” Mountain Crest coach Guy Burdett said. “We’ve been doing that all year, and we need to do it next week. If we can do that, we’ll be in the mix.”
Box Elder’s Matt Williams (152, 42-1) claimed the most outstanding wrestler award in the upper weight class in Region 5, while the Bees’ other first-place finishers were junior Kyle Smith (126, 28-16), Teagan Hubbard (138, 37-7), Breckin Gunter (195, 41-1) and Schafer Lange (220, 34-9).
“As far as our team goes, Mountain Crest and Maple Mountain both have a lot of good wrestlers. But we feel good about the group we’ve got and we’ll go down there and give ‘em all we’ve got,” said Williams.
With such a deep and talented 4A class, the state tournament should go down to the wire.
Just a year ago, Delta topped Payson by just 7.5 points to capture its fifth-straight 3A state title. Now that Delta has moved to 2A, Payson has been presented with an opportunity to take the Rabbits’ crown.
Payson easily won the 3A Southern division meet last weekend, and it returns five state placers from last year, including two individual champions.
With both Josh Jensen (106) and Riley Loveless (120) on their side, the Lions sit in a great spot to make a run at the state title this year.
Despite losing powers Jed Mellen (138, 50-2), Kaelen Loveless (160, 46-6) and Devan Judd (195, 44-5), Payson has plenty of returning talent highlighted by Jensen, Loveless and their three other returning placers.
With the last two 3A championships being decided by a combined margin of just 18.5 points, the team race should be tight once again, with schools such as Uintah and Bear River nipping at the Lions’ heels all weekend.
Other returning 3A individual state champions are Cedar’s Dusty Hone (126), Uintah’s Aaron Dick (220) and Cole Mair (285).
When you’ve won 13 of the past 16 state titles in 2A, it’s pretty fair to assume you’re a favorite to repeat as state champs.