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West High wrestling team of 1993-94 to hold reunion

By Brian Preece

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, July 9 2014 11:57 p.m. MDT

The 1993-94 West High School wrestling team will have a reunion on Sunday, July 13, at Memory Grove Park at 5 p.m. Those wishing to attend are encouraged to check the link http://goo.gl/maps/tuiH7 for directions to the reunion site. Please bring your own food and family for a picnic. All team members, regardless of their year in school at the time, are invited.

The 1993-94 wrestling team was among the best in the school's history as the team placed second in state, crowned two state champions, four state finalists, 10 state place winners and 11 region champions. The team won the region title, went undefeated in dual meet competition, won several tournaments, including the Panther Invitational, and placed second in the prestigious Tournament of Champions hosted by Uintah High School.

Two of the team members, Jeff Holtry (heavyweight) and Brandon Dansie (152 pounds) went undefeated in their seasons.

Holtry won his third state title that year and was first team All-American representing the United States team at the Dapper Dan Invitational, where he won his bout by pin.

Dansie, a junior on the team, won his first of two straight state titles in 1994, and he went undefeated in his last two years of competiton. Dansie wrestled at the University of Wyoming, where he was an Academic All-American.

Brandon Haaga (135 pounds) and Chad Huffman (119 pounds) placed second in state for the Panthers. Other state place winners were Aaron Haaga (third at 103 pounds), Eric Benson (fourth at 112 pounds), Jason Finlinson (third at 125 pounds), Alex Webster (third at 130 pounds), Mike Schmidt (fifth at 145 pounds), and Cameron Rhodes (third at 160 pounds). All of these wrestlers were region champions along with Jared Hanson (140 pounds).

The team set school records for state qualifiers (19), points scored in the state tournament (200.5), total state place winners (10), region champions (11) and dual meet victories in a season.

The team was coached by Don Holtry, who was at the helm of the Panther program for 35 years, and he coached in and won more dual meets than any coach in Utah history. Holtry was also named as the 3A Coach of the Year in 1994.

Holtry was assisted by Dan Potts, who succeeded him as head coach. Potts, a 1971 graduate of West High School, was also Holtry's first state placer he ever coached.

Also on the staff were Brian Preece, who left after that season to become the head coach at Provo High School, and Steve Cardon, who wrestled at Logan High School and Utah State. Other assistants included Shane Baptista, who prepped in California, and Greg Holtry, Don's oldest son, who placed second in state in 1991.

Some interesting facts about the team is that Schmidt is now currently the head coach of the Panther program. Two brothers, Jason and Matt Finlinson, actually both qualified for state and wrestled against each other for the region championship. The team also featured Mali Marticorena, the first female prep wrestler in state history.

Brian Preece is a freelance prep sports writer. He was an assistant coach at West High School from 1989 to 1994 and the head wrestling coach at Provo High School from 1994-2006.

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