OREM When the organizers from the Utah Amateur Wrestling Foundation were finalizing their match-ups for Tuesday's annual All-Star Wrestling Classic, it billed the 160-pound battle between Wasatch's Ethan Smith and Mountain Crest's Ethen Lofthouse as the feature match. Rarely does the actual competition live up to the hype, but in this case, they got it right.
With the team positions already locked in, 5A ran away with the event for the second consecutive year with 41 points and 3A finished second at 31. The 4A team totaled 17 points, and the combined 1A/2A team earned 16 points the only things left to be determined were if Smith could keep the Wasatch team members record perfect, and if he could avenge the two earlier losses in the season to Lofthouse. He did both.
After a scoreless first period, Smith earned one point for an escape to start the second. It remained 1-0 until Lofthouse got his escape to start the third. Smith got a two-point takedown with less than one minute remaining and held on for a 3-2 win despite getting hit for a stalling point.
"I had kind of focused all of my training toward this match," said Smith. "Ever since he beat me the last time, I have been working really hard to get ready for his. I guess all of the hard work paid off."
The event paid off for all 56 participants and the over 3,000 fans in attendance. Used as a fundraiser for the UVSC wrestling program, the event raised money while entertaining. With several great matches going on simultaneously, it was also a chance to showcase some of the most talented athletes Utah has to offer.
"It is a great atmosphere," said Juab's Kody Keisel, who had a surprise pin over Logan's Brett Kendrick. "I was kind of nervous at first, getting out there, but once you get going, it is just a great feeling to be out in front of all your family and friends. It was a lot of fun."
The other premier match-up proved to be a mismatch. A three-time state champion and the nation's No. 1 wrestler at 140 pounds, Jason Chamberlain of Springville defeated three-time state champion Aaron Butler of Monticello with a technical fall 20-5.
Other wrestlers that had great showings included Layton's Adam Fager beating Dixie's Nate Carter 13-10, Colby Christensen of Uintah topping Raider Lofthouse of Mountain Crest and Dustin Martin of Weber beating Dylan Clark of North Sanpete. But the most impressive performance was the fact that all six Wasatch wrestlers won their respective matches. Smith's may have been the most surprising, but Cole Shafer, Trevor Sweat, Jake Salazar, Sean Sullivan and Blake Mangum all picked up victories.
"It is nice knowing you have wrestlers of that caliber," said Wasps coach Steve Sanderson. "We may not be the best dual team ever, but with that group, you know you are going to score a lot of points at tournaments."
With the All-Star in the books, those that participated now turn their attention to finishing the regular season and winning a state title."This is a lot of fun and I am happy I won," said Christensen. "It was an honor to be here, but now the real work begins."