AMERICAN FORK The American Fork Cavemen are turning heads in 5A wrestling. Led by second-year coach Stan Kitchen, the Cavemen have won their second tournament of the season while compiling a 16-1 dual meet record.
On Saturday, American Fork won its own tournament, the Caveman Duals, going 5-0 and beating Region 4 rival Timpanogos 71-9 in the championship finals.
When explaining their success this year, Kitchen points to a number of things.
"Our kids have bought into the team concept," he said. "We really try to emphasize that even when a kid loses, if they have given their best, they help the team. The team concept is really working for us."
In addition, Kitchen says all good teams develop "a style of wrestling."
"We are trying to establish our own style, our own identity. We're focusing on the basics and sound fundamental wrestling," he said. "We've got a long ways to go, but we're getting there. Our seniors are leading the way. Not only are they winning matches, they are helping the younger wrestlers get better."
In Kitchen's corner are two assistant coaches well known in the Utah wrestling community. Cole Kelley was the former wrestling coach at Orem, leading the Tigers to a second-place finish in 1999-2000. Also assisting Kitchen is John Kelly, a two-time state champion from Alta who was also a WAC champion for BYU.
The Timberwolves went ahead 6-0 thanks to a forfeit victory by William Adams. After that it was all Cavemen as Jared Smith, Collin Garrett and Michael Hortman all picked up first-round pins. Dallin and Jake Horan both won, Jake by a second-round pin over Tanner Prestwich, which gave American Fork an insurmountable 30-6 lead.
American Fork kept rolling as Kyle Sumsion, Weston Smith, Jason Day and Jason Ballantyne made quick work of their foes with wins by pin, while Mitch Nicholes defeated Matt Kresge by a technical fall, 19-4.
Timberwolf DJ Argyle beat Justin Ballantyne 5-3 at 112 pounds in the meet's closest match before Scott and Matt Newman finished things off for the Cavemen with two pins.
American Fork had seven wrestlers go undefeated in their five duals, with Scott Newman (119 pounds), Jared Smith (135), Collin Garrett (140), Michael Hortman (145), Jake Horan (160), Kyle Sumsion (189) and Jason Day (285). Further, Shane Kitchen of American Fork, wrestling for an independent team of JV wrestlers, also went undefeated. Besides these Cavemen wrestlers, only two other wrestlers went undefeated as Argyle (112) and West's Jared Gardner (130) went unblemished. Hortman and Gardner were named the meet's most outstanding wrestlers.
Prep wrestling roundup: Fremont won the Bruin Invitational hosted by Mountain View. In the nine-team field, the Silverwolves bested Cedar City 172.0 to 141.5. Skyline was third with 116.0 points, and Cottonwood edged host Mountain View for fourth, scoring 105.0 points for 104.0 for the Bruins. In sixth place was Provo with 92.5 points, followed by Canyon View with 86.0 points, Pleasant Grove with 72.0 points and Woods Cross with 36.0 points.
At "The Clash" in Minnesota, considered one of the top tournaments in the United States, Wasatch finished first in the Silver Division while compiling a 5-1 record. Wasatch lost its first dual meet to Anoka HS out of Minnesota 35-27 but came back with five straight victories.
In the very first match of the tournament, Anoka's No. 1 ranked Jake Deitchler met up with Wasatch's No. 3 ranked Jake Salazar. This match of nationally ranked wrestlers did not disappoint as Deitchler won 11-10. Salazar had built up a 4-1 first-period lead and had a 10-9 lead with less than 30 seconds left, but Deitchler took down the Wasp with just seconds remaining to win. The Wasps had four wrestlers go undefeated; Blake Mangum (125), Ethan Smith (160), Cole Shafer (171) and Garrett Gleave (215).