High school wrestling: Delta Rabbits run away with 6th straight state title

Published: Saturday, Feb. 15 2014 9:30 p.m. MST

WEST VALLEY CITY — One by one, as Delta’s 16 state placers walked to the podium to claim their state championship medals Saturday night, Delta coach Jason Thomas leaned against the hockey boards at the Maverik Center from a distance with a huge grin.

In a season of potential uncertainty as Delta changed classifications and with only a handful of returning state placers, the Rabbits didn’t skip a beat.

Backed by Friday’s dominant semifinal showing, and then a strong consolation round Saturday afternoon, Delta coasted to the 2A state championship, its sixth straight overall title and 32nd in school history.

“I knew these kids. I’ve coached them since they were this little, and I knew what kind of team we had,” said Thomas. “I never had any doubt with these kids. I was really confident we could put a team together to win it.”

Delta finished with 260 points to finish first, followed by Millard in second with 218 points and North Sevier in third with 187.

“It feels great — feels like domination. That’s what we do,” said Delta 126-pound champion Bracken Lovell, who beat Manti’s Weston Larson 8-2 to win his first title.

Lovell was one of four individual champs for Delta, along with Victor Almanza (138), Morgan Bogue (145) and McQuae Anderson (152). Thomas admits he would’ve liked to have won a few more titles with 10 wrestlers in the finals, but acknowledged many of his kids were underdogs.

“A couple could’ve maybe done a little bit better, but the adrenaline and the excitement of this I think got to a couple of the kids. First time in a situation like that, but overall very happy with our team this weekend,” said Thomas.

One of the most anticipated finals of the evening was at 120 pounds with a pair of defending champs squaring off. Beaver’s Kyle Evans took state at 106 pounds a year ago, while South Summit’s Matt Lee won at 113. On Saturday, Lee took control of the match early and pulled away for the 9-4 win.

Class 2A’s other defending champs each won in relatively easy fashion, with North Sevier’s Brendon Sorenson (160) pinning his opponent at the 1:49 mark and Manti’s Dylan Brown (182) following with an even faster pin just 1:34 into the first period.

One of the most compelling matches of the night in any classification was 2A’s 170-pound championship match between Beaver’s Travis Gilman and Gunnison’s McKade Cox. Late in the first period Cox slammed Gilman to the mat, with the Beaver senior blacking out.

Soon after, Cox was declared the winner because of an apparent concussion to his opponent.

Beaver’s coaching staff immediately began pleading with the refs to consult additional medical personnel about the concussion, specifically three different doctors from Beaver who were in attendance.

As everything unfolded, Gilman stood there thinking, “My dreams are crushed. Four years of giving it everything I’ve got and they’re taking it away in a matter of seconds.”

Gilman was eventually cleared to wrestle and he ended up winning 9-3.

“I would like to thank my coaches. Ultimately, if it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t have been wrestling,” said Gilman.

Other 2A individual champs were North Summit’s Jaxon Cole (106), South Summit’s Paden Woolstenhulme (113), Millard’s McCrae Thatcher (132), Millard’s Quigley Whitaker (195), Emery’s Zach West (220) and North Summit’s Brenz Staples (285).

Class 2A

At Maverik Center

Final team scores