It feels good. It's been a while for Clearfield High School. It's pretty exciting, not only for us but for our whole school. We by far had the most fans here and we traveled the farthest to come here, so it was really good for our community and our fans and our school to have our kids work so hard and reach their goals. —Clearfield coach Dustin Rock
After 17 years, it's time once again to make room in Clearfield's wrestling trophy case.
In the highly competitive Region 6 tournament Thursday night, Clearfield edged host Highland 348 to 338 to claim its first region title since 1993.
"It feels good. It's been a while for Clearfield High School. It's pretty exciting, not only for us but for our whole school. We by far had the most fans here and we traveled the farthest to come here, so it was really good for our community and our fans and our school to have our kids work so hard and reach their goals," said Clearfield coach Dustin Rock, who was doused with water from a dozen or so water bottles after the trophy presentation.
Clearfield finished with four individual champions and qualified 12 wrestlers to next week's 4A state tournament as it denied Highland a third straight region championship.
Cyprus finished third with 302 points, followed by Bountiful (249.5), Woods Cross (143) and East (44).
The Falcons owned a two-point lead heading into the championship matches, and both coaches knew it could go either way. Clearfield had six wrestlers in the finals, including a head-to-head match-up at 220 pounds. Highland, meanwhile, advanced seven to the finals including a head-to-head match-up at 152.
Clearfield won four of its five possible title matches, while Highland won just two.
"We had an opportunity, but we got outwrestled. You got to step on the mat and take care of business, and we didn't do it enough times," said Highland coach Ted Sierer.
Despite the frustration of coming up short, Sierer said he was particularly pleased with the way his kids wrestled in the consolation rounds after the semifinals.
"We thought we were going to be completely out of the tournament after the semifinals. I'm actually quite proud that they battled back and made a showing at the end. They could've easily tucked it in and wrestled for themselves," said Sierer.
Clearfield won the first three matches of the night, with Colton Thiel prevailing at 106 pounds, Christian Kodele at 113 pounds and Zeth Porter at 120 pounds. Thiel has placed in every tournament this year, including the Richardson Memorial at Box Elder.
The three early victories helped the Falcons open up a 20-point lead, but the Rams were still very much within striking distance with all their championships still to come.
Highland ending up coming up short as Christian Schulte at 152 pounds and Justin Weaver at 195 pounds were the only Rams who prevailed.
Sierer was particularly pleased with the progress of Weaver, who upset Woods Cross' Tony Mendez for the title.
"He's a hard nosed kid, he was a leader on the football team. He's only wrestled for two years, he's just come in and picked it up. He isn't afraid of anyone, and that's what you need out of that 195-pound class," said Sierer.
With the match tied late in the third period, Weaver got a take down to go up 3-1 with 11 seconds remaining. Mendez quickly escaped, but Weaver stayed neutral during the final seconds to preserve the win.
In the 182-pound match just prior, the breaks didn't go Highland's way. Dylan Coggins led Cyprus' Chad Hunt 7-6 heading into the third period, but Hunt used a quick take down to take an 8-7 lead and then pinned Coggins 54 seconds into the third.
Cyprus' other individual champs were Matt Merkey at 126 pounds, Nico Disera at 145 pounds and Bob Nenbee at 160 pounds.
Bountiful also finished with four individual champs. Twin brothers Joey Barnett and Josh Barnett won at 132 and 138 pounds respectively, while AJ Tovey prevailed at 170 pounds with a first period pin. Junior Hamilton won the nightcap by edging Highland's Luti Nonu 1-0 at 285 pounds.
"We've been working hard all year and this has been the best tournament for us. We haven't had a strong team like this for quite a while, and the good news is that all but one is coming back," said Bountiful coach Matt Ripplinger.
Clearfield's last individual title of the evening went to Dakota Wickel at 220 pounds, with the sophomore beating his senior teammate Alex Child, 7-4.
As nice as the region title is, Rock said he wants his wrestlers to be hungry for more next week.
"The region title isn't what we trained for, it's obviously a great goal and something I'm really proud of, but next week is what our goal is," said Rock.
Region 6 Wrestling Championships
At Highland High School
1. Clearfield, 348; 2. Highland, 338; 3. Cyprus, 302; 4. Bountiful, 249.5; 5. Woods Cross, 143; 6. East, 44.
106 — 1. Colton Thiel, Clearfield; 2. Logan Swallow, Clearfield; 3. Dylan Holmes, Highland; 4. Kiefer Nunley, Highland.
113 — 1. Christian Kodele, Clearfield; 2. Daniel Cota, East; 3. David Halls, Woods Cross; 4. Houston Christensen, Woods Cross.
120 — 1. Zeth Porter, Clearfield; 2. Justin Maxwell, Bountiful; 3. Devin Petersen, Cyprus; 4. Donze Palmer, Cyprus.
126 — 1. Matt Merkey, Cyprus; 2. Justin Horsley, Bountiful; 3. Skyler Lloyd, Highland; 4. Eric Walker, Clearfield.
132 — 1. Joey Barnett, Bountiful; 2. David Doane, Highland; 3. Preston Olsen, Clearfield; 4. Juan Rodriguez, Cyprus.
138 — 1. Josh Barnett, Bountiful; 2. Nate Bradshaw, Clearfield; 3. Enrique Gress, Cyprus; 4. Cole Cook, Woods Cross.
145 — 1. Nico Disera, Cyprus; 2. Lamar Gimmeson, Bountiful; 3. Max Bonifacio, Cyprus; 4. Jake Mahler, Woods Cross.
152 — 1. Christian Schulte, Highland; 2. Justin Hall, Highland; 3. Caleb Damschen, Clearfield; 4. Ryan Peterson, Woods Cross.
160 — 1. Bob Nenbee, Cyprus; 2. Taylor Fallentine, Cyprus; 3. Sydney Lauti, Highland; 4. Ben Crosby, Clearfield.
170 — 1. AJ Tovey, Bountiful; 2. Colton Goates, Highland; 3. Dewey Clark, Highland; 4. Garrett Ruskauff, Bountiful.
182 — 1. Chad Hunt, Cyprus; 2. Dylan Coggins, Highland; 3. Ephraim Schulte, Highland; 4. Haden Phillips, Clearfield.
195 — 1. Justin Weaver, Highland; 2. Tony Mendez, Woods Cross; 3. Andrew Barlow, Highland; 4. Bryant Garcia, Cyprus.
220 — 1. Dakota Wickel, Clearfield; 2. Alex Child, Clearfield; 3. Christian Correia, Highland; 4. Cesar Reyes, Cyprus.
285 — 1. Junior Hamilton, Bountiful; 2. Luti Nonu, Highland; 3. Austin Underwood, Cyprus; 4. Alex Nofi, Highland.