Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
WEST VALLEY CITY — Cottonwood’s Jacob Knapp just tried to hold on for dear life.
With 30 seconds left in his 5A quarterfinal match on Thursday, Knapp scored a takedown against favored Colton Strand from Herriman — a two-time 4A champ — to take a one-point lead. Knapp ended up underneath Strand after the takedown, but he held his lock and the ref determined that he never lost control.
“I’ve worked with him before, and I know his mindset — he goes as hard as me — so it was a matter of whoever scrambled more and the match went my way that time,” said the Cottonwood junior, who prevailed 7-6 in the 120-pound quarterfinal match.
“That was a pretty big upset. That was probably my biggest win. I just knew I had to work. Now I just have to work in the semis (Friday).”
Knapp will face Dallin Denton in Friday’s 5A semifinals at the Maverik Center. Denton is a wrestler he hasn’t faced since beating him at state last season.
Knapp’s victory was part of an electric opening day of the 5A and 4A state tournament at the Maverik Center, which featured 12 mats.
“It’s a day I’ve been looking forward to all year,” said Pleasant Grove 285-pound defending champ Zach Dawe. “It’s awesome to walk into the Maverik Center and see the 12 mats. It kind of gives you a bit of an adrenaline rush.”
As expected, it was a day dominated by Pleasant Grove. The No. 1 Vikings advanced nine wrestlers to the semifinals to take a commanding lead into the second day of competition.
Pleasant Grove leads with 125.5 points, while Layton sits in second with 68 points and Syracuse in third with 66.
“We haven’t won yet. We just have to keep going. It doesn’t matter who you wrestle, who you beat or who’ve lost to — state tournament anything can happen. We just tell everyone to wrestle their best, go out and try and get the pin,” said Dawe.
Other PG wrestlers who advanced to the semifinals were Nelson Jones (106), Kyson Levin (113), Benjamin Anderson (120), Landon Gates (138), Bailey Carlson (160), TJ Wind (170), Marcos Garcia (182) and Austin Taylor (220).
Levin is a junior going for his third-straight state championship, while Anderson, Dawe and Wind are seeking back-to-back titles.
On a day when Strand succumbed to the upset bug, two of 5A’s best wrestlers made quick work in their first two matches.
Taylorsville’s Roy Nash pinned both opponents at 220 pounds to improve to 35-0 this season and advance to the 5A semifinals.
Alta’s Matt Findlay won by fall and technical fall in his first two matches as he inched closer to winning his fourth straight individual state championship.
“You can never take away the fact that it’s state, but you don’t approach it any different I think. I’ve been trying to approach it just like every other match, just go out there and wrestle hard for six minutes and whatever’s going to happen is going to happen,” said Findlay.
At Maverik Center
Team scores after Day 1
1. Pleasant Grove, 125.5; 2. Layton, 68; 3. Syracuse, 66; 4. Herriman, 55.5; 5. Jordan, 54.5; 6. Bingham, 50; 7. Davis, 45; 8. Viewmont, 40.5; 9. American Fork, 32; 10. Fremont, 26.
Friday’s semifinal matches
106 — Nelson Jones, Pleasant Grove vs. Kade Evans, Davis; Cameron Hunsaker, American Fork vs. Taylor Porath, Viewmont.
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