Utah made another big splash on the national wrestling scene as the LaMont brothers took home gold at the USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals held in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Grant LaMont, a senior at Maple Mountain High School who won his third state title for the Golden Eagle program in February, won the 145-pound weight class in the Junior Division (high school juniors and senior age wrestlers) while younger brother Taylor, a freshman and also a state champ, won the 113-pound division in the Cadet division (freshman and sophomore age wrestlers).
The older LaMont dominated the field, winning four of six matches by pin. His other two victories came by a 16-0 technical fall and a major decision 9-1 in the quarterfinals against a wrestler from Wisconsin. Grant won his championship match with a third round pin against Tommy Forte of Indiana.
Younger brother Taylor wasn’t quite as dominant as his older sibling, nailing down two pins, and his championship bout had a lot more drama. Against top-seeded Mitchell McKee of Minnesota, Taylor won by an ultimate tiebreaker in a 1-1 match when he rode out McKee for the win.
Maple Mountain showed its mettle by earning four medals in this event as the top eight finishers earned All-American status. Jon Wixom, the 4A state champion, finished third in the 195-pound weight class in the junior division while Johnny O’hearon finished eighth in the 145-pound Cadet division.
The Beehive State’s presence wasn't done as Ken Astle, a two-time state champion from Layton, finished eighth in the 145-pound division. Uintah’s Cole Mair, the 3A state champion, also finished eighth in the junior division at 285 pounds. Bryce Brimhall, from Syracuse, finished fifth in the 94-pound Cadet division.
Alongside this tournament was the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) event in Virginia Beach. The NHSCA competition breaks down its contests by separate classes for each grade level, and several Utah wrestlers ventured to test their wares.
While the USA Folkstyles generally gets its best competitors from the heartland of the country, the NHSCA tournament’s best wrestlers generally come from the East Coast and California.
Payson’s Jed Mellen, a three-time state champion, placed fifth in the Senior Division at 132 pounds. Teammate Riley Loveless, the 3A state champion at 120 pounds, did well against some of the best sophomore wrestlers and finished third in the 126-pound division.
A pair of freshmen grapplers placed in this event at 113 pounds, while Herriman’s Jaron Jensen placed fourth and Pleasant Grove’s Ben Anderson was sixth. Jensen placed second behind Taylor LaMont in the 4A state tournament at 113 pounds while Anderson was the 5A state champion at 106 pounds.
Brian E. Preece is a freelance sports writer who has been published in a number of publications. He was the head wrestling coach at Provo High School from 1994-2006 and the NHSCA Coach of the Year for Utah during the 2005-06 wrestling season.