SMITHFIELD — For awhile, it looked like the Bees might get stung themselves.
In the end, though, they went on their way back to Brigham City buzzing about another in a long line of league wrestling titles.
Box Elder High used some strong performances in the middle and upper weight divisions to overcome a strong challenge by Mountain Crest and capture the Region 5 Wrestling Championship in the annual Region 5 tournament staged Thursday night at Sky View High School.
The Bees took home six individual titles and had seven second-place finishes to pile up 367.5 points, which was good enough to turn back Mountain Crest by 14 points for the region title. The Mustangs, who dominated the lower weights and had Sylas Wells win the outstanding wrestler award in the upper weights, wound up with 353.5 points.
Logan High was third with 214.5, followed by Sky View with 139, Roy 70 and Bonneville 43.5.
"When we had 12 in the finals and (the Mustangs) had eight, I felt pretty confident," said Box Elder coach Mike Ripplinger. "But man, they wrestled really well coming through the back door, probably better than we did, so they kind of snuck up on me a little bit and it was closer than I thought going into the finals.
"That's where our strength has been all year, in the middle and upper weights, and we're getting better in the lower weights. But Mountain Crest wrestled better than us in the consolation bracket, and we've got to do just a little better if we want to win state, I think."
For Ripplinger, Thursday's title marked the 22nd region championship in his stellar coaching career.
"Winning's always fun," he said with a smile. "It's always a little bit different. Each one's got its own little story, and this year will have its own little chemistry and makeup and story. It's always a lot of fun."
Box Elder got first-place performances from Shand Hardy at 113 pounds, Jake Tolman at 145, Rasten Yeates at 152, Nick Sorenson at 160, Breckin Gunter at 195 and Rylee Reeves at 285.
Hardy (34-7), a junior who took the 113-pound title with a 9-0 major decision over Bonneville's Haydan Jackman, is another in a long line of Hardy family members who has wrestled, and wrestled very well, for the Bees' perennial powerhouse program over the years.
"It's one big happy family," he said, noting that the moms of teammates Yeates and Sorenson are Hardys, too. "My dad (Chad) and three of my uncles wrestled at Box Elder. I've had a lot of cousins that wrestled, too. It's kind of a family legacy, wrestling. We all love it; it's in our blood, we're natural-born wrestlers. It just kinda happens."
Tolman (38-2), a junior, pinned Box Elder teammate Matt Williams in the third period for the 145-pound prize. Yeates (39-1), also a junior, ran his impressive record to 39-1 by pinning Sky View's Abraham Herrera in the second period.
Another junior, Sorenson (35-1), beat Roy's Danny Palmer 13-2 in the 160-pound title match.
Reeves beat Logan's Jacoby Wildman 3-1 in a battle of the big fellas.
And Gunter, who's just a sophomore, improved to 36-4 by claiming a 7-5 decision over Mountain Crest's Drake Comer for the 195-pound crown.
The two region rivals had split their two league matches earlier this season. Gunter said one of the best things he learned this season was a huge dose of humility.
"I had the confidence that I'd win the region and state," he said. "I won this belt buckle at a freestyle
tournament so I thought I was hot crap, and when the season started I thought I was just gonna dominate everybody. Then at the first of the year, I was humbled. I got beat twice at Layton and finished fifth, so I was really humbled there."
Along with Wells' dominance at 220 pounds, Mountain Crest also got individual titles from Trevor Lowe at 106 pounds, Mason Kendrick at 120, Brady Dart at 126 and Taylon Niederhauser at 182.
Lowe scored a near-fall in the final minute to take an 8-5 decision over Sky View's Eric Hansen, and Kendrick defeated Box Elder's Jake Smith 7-4. Dart ran his record to 40-6 by rallying from a 5-2 deficit for a 12-7 victory over Logan's Talon Teeples, and Niederhauser (44-3) edged Box Elder's Kohler Smoot 2-1 for the 182-pound title.
Wells, a senior who placed second in the state last year, ran his record to a sparkling 40-1 by pinning Box Elder's Joe Flores at 1:23 of the first period.
"This kid's been talking it up a lot this year, saying he's gonna beat me and throw me on my back a lot at region and state," Wells said. "Seeing that and just throwing it down his throat, it helps me a lot. I've pinned him every time.
"It is nice," he said of the outstanding wrestler award. "I've been waiting for tournament after tournament because I've been working hard and trying to get better. I won one at the Pine View Invitational, and that's the first time that I've actually been able to get it. This week, I was trying my hardest to get it again."
Logan wrestlers won the other three individual titles — Quinn Hinckley at 132 pounds, Isaac Harrison at 138 and Spencer McKay at 170.
Hinckley (41-1) scored six points in the third period to beat Box Elder's Dante Winward 8-3, and McKay (42-1) scored a last-gasp takedown in the final 10 seconds to slip past Box Elder's Britton Gunter in a 3-2 thriller.
Harrison, who had to overcome a torn MCL in his right knee which forced him to miss three weeks of the season,?took home the award as outstanding wrestler in the lower weights following his 8-6 overtime victory over Mountain Crest's Kaden Lindley in arguably the best match of the night.
"I worked real hard to get that far," said Harrison (21-6), "and I thought about all the practices I had to get there.
"I didn't have to have surgery on my knee, so it healed itself. I missed three weeks of competition and practice. But the doctors told me about two weeks ago I could go without the brace.
"I wanted to return and do it again," the defending region champion said of winning another league title. "I felt really good about it."
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Region 5 Wrestling Championships
At Sky View High School:
1. Box Elder, 367.5; 2. Mountain Crest, 353.5; 3. Logan, 214.5; 4. Sky View, 139; 5. Roy, 70; 6. Bonneville, 43.5.
106 — 1. Trevor Lowe Mountain Crest; 2. Eric Hansen Sky View 3. Kyle Smith Box Elder; 4. Skyler Jones Sky View.
113 — 1. Shand Hardy Box Elder; 2. Haydan Jackman Bonneville; 3. Logan Harrison Logan; 4. Loren Leishman Mountain Crest.
120 — 1. Mason Kendrick Mountain Crest; 2. Jake Smith Box Elder; 3. Chris Wengreen Mountain Crest; 4. Matt Mott Logan.
126 — 1. Brady Dart Mountain Crest; 2. Talon Teeples Logan; 3. Quinton Lopez Sky View; 4. Cameron Schwab Mountain Crest.
132 — 1. Quinn Hinckley Logan; 2. Dante Winward Box Elder; 3. Rayden Lindley Mountain Crest; 4. Zach Sakurada (R).
138 — 1. Isaac Harrison Logan; 2. Kaden Lindley Mountain Crest; 3. Mckay Parrish Box Elder; 4. Teagan Hubbard Box Elder.
145 — 1. Jake Tolman Box Elder; 2. Matt Williams Box Elder; 3. Jordan Wengreen Mountain Crest; 4. Tyson Stander (R).
152 — 1. Rasten Yeates Box Elder; 2. Abraham Herrera Sky View; 3. Tyrell Fredrickson Mountain Crest; 4. Dylan Mathis Bonneville.
160 — 1. Nick Sorenson Box Elder; 2. Danny Palmer (R); 3. Tyrone Grantham Mountain Crest; 4. Alex Werling Box Elder.
170 — 1. Spencer McKay Logan: 2. Britton Gunter Mountain Crest; 3. Jon Boam Mountain Crest; 4. Jacob Hansen Sky View.
182 — 1. Taylon Niederhauser Mountain Crest; 2. Kohler Smoot Box Elder; 3. Arrington Evans Mountain Crest; 4. Josue Arredondo Logan.
195 — 1. Breckin Gunter Box Elder; 2. Drake Comer Mountain Crest; 3. Dustin Christensen (R); 4. Alex Huerta Mountain Crest.
220 — 1. Sylas Wells Mountain Crest; 2. Joe Flores Box Elder; 3. KC Lowry Box Elder; 4. Pete Olvany Logan.
285 — 1. Rylee Reeves Box Elder; 2. Jacoby Wildman Logan; 3. Kyler Funk Mountain Crest; 4. Kyle Christiansen Mountain Crest.