When the USA Fila Cadet National Team heads to Serbia for the 2013 World Championships this August, it will certainly carry a Utah flavor. Of the 10 possible weight class titles that were up for grabs at the Fila National team trials in Akron, Ohio, earlier this week, four of those spots were claimed by Utah wrestlers.
"This is something that has never happened before," said coach Craig LaMont, who guided the Utah contingent in Akron. "Utah has always had a reputation for tough wrestlers, but we're not Pennsylvania or Iowa or Ohio."
However, Utah may soon be added to that list of state wrestling powers, as Tanner Cox (101.25/46 kilos), Taylor LaMont (119/54 kilos), Kimball Bastian (167.5/76 kilos) and Roy Nash (220.5/110 kilos) all earned spots on the Greco-Roman team. Nash wrestles for Taylorsville High, while the other three wrestlers are teammates at Maple Mountain High.
Each wrestler competed in as many as eight matches en route to their titles and berths on the national team. LaMont and Nash each defeated opponents from Minnesota in the finals, while Cox took care of a wrestler from Wisconsin, and Bastian won his final over a Washington state rival.
A fourth Maple Mountain wrestler, Brooks Robinson, also earned a trip to the finals but dropped his last match.
"It was really a fun day," Craig LaMont said. "Lining up with five finalists was a great experience."
LaMont coached with Utah wrestling legend Justin Ruiz, a popular star at the tournament.
"Everyone knows Justin," LaMont said of the Utah star. "Being able to coach with him was a great experience for me."
LaMont had high praise for each of his USA team members.
"Cox just dominated all of his opponents," LaMont said. "Kimball is one of those guys who just outworks everyone. He pulled off two or three upsets along the way."
"Kimball trains twice a day pretty much all year round and it showed when he beat guys he had been beaten by last year."
Nash is "one of the nicest people you could ever be around," said LaMont. "He is very coachable and humble. I couldn't be happier for Roy."
LaMont had the unique experience of coaching his second son to a spot on the USA team. A year ago, it was big brother Grant becoming a national representative. When Taylor saw what his brother achieved he told his father that earning a spot on the world team was something he wanted to achieve.
"Taylor is super confident," Lamont said. "He has worked extremely hard and has grown up around the sport. He told me last year he was going to make the team three years in a row (beginning this year)."
"I wasn't surprised that he won the tournament. In fact, if he had not won, I would have been surprised."
With nearly half of the Greco-Roman team being from the Beehive State, a majority of the team training will take place in Utah. The team will land in Serbia in August, where it will be up against the best wrestlers on the globe.
"We all can't wait to represent the country in Serbia," Bastian said. "This is exciting and is a starting point for some of us because we want to keep wrestling internationally."
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