OREM The state 3A wrestling meet ended up being much closer than most of the "experts" thought, but in the end the Wasatch Wasps walked away with their eighth straight state title, edging a determined Delta Rabbit squad by just nine points.
The raucous crowd enjoyed the finals, but when the dust settled Wasatch won the state title with 311 points followed by Delta with 302. Uintah (264) was strong, followed by North Sanpete (190) and Cedar City (144.5).
After hundreds of matches, Delta's last hope to upset the Wasps came down to the 189-pound match where Kipp Holman had to knock off Wasatch's Garrett Gleave to keep the Rabbits' hopes alive. Delta was clinging to a one-point lead, but Gleave posted a 10-5 win and Wasatch clinched the state title.
"I was nervous," admitted Gleave, "but I was also very excited. I knew I had to get it done. When he (Holman) took me down, it was a wake-up call. I had to get up and get going."
Two matches later, Sean Sullivan (285 pounds) put some icing on the cake by pinning Uintah's Rusty Farnsworth with just eight seconds left in the match. Farnsworth was leading the Wasatch big man 1-0 before Sullivan executed a head throw to pin his Region 10 rival.
"Delta looked real good and so did Uintah," commented Wasatch coach Steve Sanderson. "It was a good, tough three-team race. It's a good feeling to win it."
Wasatch put eight wrestlers into the championship finals while Delta had seven, putting pressure on the Wasps to win all or nearly all of the championship matches. In one match, Wasatch was guaranteed some points as Cole Shafer took on teammate Skyler Porter in the 171-pound finals. Shafer secured a major decision to set up Gleave's heroics one match later.
The Wasps crowned seven champions as Trevor Sweat (119), Blake Mangum (125 pounds) and Jake Salazar (160) joined Shafer, Gleave and Sullivan on top of the podium.
Leading the team race going into the championship round, the Rabbits desperately tried to hold their lead, and the championship matches started off well for the Rabbits.
Uintah's Candace Workman was hoping to become the first-ever female wrestler to win a state title, but Chasen Tolbert ended her quest by pinning the Ute with just one second left in the second period. The Delta wrestler dominated the match throughout to claim the 103-pound title.
Tolbert and the Rabbits got additional support from Justin Penn and Westly Anderson, who nailed down titles at 140 and 145 pounds, respectively. Anderson had the most exciting match of the night as he held off Uintah's Matt Sunkees 15-13. Anderson had built up a huge lead, but Sunkees came back to put Anderson on his back, executing a twister or cement-mixer to put Anderson in peril. But Anderson fought off his back to win the match.
Those two wins put Delta out in front of Wasatch by 13 points, but Wasatch had its big guns in the next four weights and the Wasps' firepower could not be stopped.
Uintah crowned two champs out of its seven finalists. Colby Christensen (112) and Creedon Merkley (130) picked up titles for the Utes.
Hurricane's Brock Prince (135) and Dylan Clark (215) also won state titles, and each picked up the Outstanding Wrestler Awards in the lower and upper weights, respectively. Clark set the state pin record for a season with 50 to go along with his second state title.
Wasatch's Jake Salazar won his third state title, defeating Delta's Jordan Sorenson 16-7. Salazar finished his season with a 47-1 record, his only loss coming in an out-of-state tournament in Minnesota.
"It feels good," stated Salazar. "I wanted to win state real bad. I wanted the pin, the fall, but I probably pressed too much to get it."
Salazar will hope to avenge that lone loss at the Senior Nationals in March and then will attend Michigan to wrestle for the Wolverines.