OREM — After three days of hard-fought wrestling at the Utah Valley UCCU Event Center in Orem, one Utah wrestler came away with youth wrestling's version of the triple crown. The final two legs of the ASICS USA Wrestling Kids Nationals were held in Utah while the first leg, the folkstyle nationals, took place in Iowa this spring.
When the dust settled, South Jordan's Cole Moody showed rare wrestling prowess by winning all three styles, including two in back-to-back days of rugged competition.
This year the Kids Nationals attracted more than 600 wrestlers from 37 different states for both the styles.
Moody defeated Jon Trowbridge (Kansas) by a 12-1 technical fall to secure both the freestyle title and the triple crown.
Moody won five matches in a 32-wrestler bracket to earn his gold medal and did so in dominating fashion with three wins by technical fall (10 points or higher) and two by pin.
Moody said he was “a little nervous” for his final match and understandably so as often the third leg of the triple crown is the hardest. Moody says he likes all the styles but he definitely has a preference.
“I actually like folkstyle best. You have to work for the points, you just can’t tilt and get points,” he said.
Moody noted that one of the significant differences between freestyle and folkstyle is in the latter it's necessary to put an opponent on his back for two consecutive seconds to earn back points. In both freestyle and Greco-Roman, grapplers can score points for merely exposing their opponents’ back for even just a split second.
Pleasant Grove’s Brandon Closson won the freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments. In the freestyle tournament, Closson won all his four bouts by technical fall.
Brigham City’s Brock Hardy fell short of earning his triple crown when he was defeated by Florida’s Anthony Artalona, 9-5.
Artalona built up a 4-0 lead before Hardy fought back to make it 6-5 with just under 30 seconds remaining. But Artalona secured a takedown and a back exposure in the match’s final moments to clinch the championship and deny Hardy his triple crown. Still, Hardy managed to win folkstyle and Greco-Roman championships.
In the end, Hardy and Closson won two legs of the triple crown while Utah County’s Kade Thompson won Greco-Roman but fell short of a becoming a double winner when he took fourth in the Novice (ages 11-12) 75-pound division in freestyle.
Another top Utah performance was turned in by Vernal’s Tucker Tomlinson, who placed second in the schoolboy 136-pound weight class in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments.
Tournament director Cole Kelley called the tournament a rousing success in its sixth straight year in the Beehive State.
“It was a great tournament,” said Kelley. “I would like to thank the efforts of the officials, match pair masters, table workers and others who made this tournament a success. The wrestling competition was fierce, and Utah County and Utah Valley University once again provided a great setting for this prestigious youth wrestling event.”
Brian E. Preece is a freelance prep writer who has been published by numerous publications. He was also the head coach at Provo High School from 1994-2006 and was the Utah Coach of the Year in 2006 for the National Wrestling Coaches Association.