OREM The Box Elder wrestling team finished second at the Region 5 meet. The Bees were beaten rather handily by Mountain Crest. My what a difference a week makes.
Box Elder had a terrific first day of competition at the 4A state tournament at the McKay Events Center. The Bees lead the team competition at 106 points compared to second-place Payson's 93 and Mountain Crest's 88. Dixie, Pine View and Springville round out the top six.
"We won all of our close matches today," said Bees coach Mike Ripplinger on the difference between the two tournaments. "The guys really battled hard, and if it was close, they found a way to get the win."
The team advanced 10 wrestlers into today's semifinals. Mountain Crest had six wrestlers advance unbeaten, and Payson qualified five.
"I think we are doing a pretty good job as a team," said Payson's 130-pound semifinalist Jeremiah Guzman. "We are all fighting hard for every bonus point, and then our guys are pushing hard that have already lost."
While two-time defending state champion Mountain Crest trails by 18 points, the Mustangs know that the tournament is hardly over.
"Our whole team knows that you never give up, even after you lose one," said 125-pounder Jarrett Morrill. "Coach is always emphasizing that there is no way we are going to have 14 state champions, so it is up to everybody to do their part if we want to win a team title."
"We know that a tournament is usually won by the bottom (the brackets for the consolation)," said Mustangs coach Davie Swensen. "Our guys down there are going to keep fighting, and they know how important they are if we want to win it."
The 5A competition doesn't have a surprise leader like 4A. Viewmont was the pretournament favorite, and the Vikings are living up to the billing.
"We knew we needed to have a good first day," said coach Brandon Ripplinger. "It is kind of like running a mile race. You know you need to stay at the head of the pack with the leaders, and our guys did that. They wrestled pretty well today."
The Vikings lead the team title chase with 80 points. Weber is second at 72, and West Jordan is in third with 59.5. Hunter, Spanish Fork and Bingham are the next three.
The fact that Hunter is in a top six position is quite remarkable. While the Wolverines did win the Region 3 title for the second consecutive year, they did not do much at state last season. Things have changed.
"We had a lot of guys that really poured their heart into it today," said coach Craig Stauffer. "We got four guys through to the semifinals, and we are proud that they are doing so well."
The team chase will almost undoubtedly come down to two Region 1 teams as both Viewmont and Weber have seven wrestlers through to the semifinals.
"We just have to go out and wrestle our best," said Weber's 152-pound defending champion Lew Woolsey. "Our team is wrestling the best they have all year, and we want to try to defend our title."The wrestling continues today with the 2A and 3A squads getting started at 10:30 a.m., and the 4A and 5A semifinals slated for 7 p.m.