We’re excited to be in the position were in. Our kids have worked really hard. But we know there’s going to have to be more. We can’t let off the gas. —Bear River coach Jeff Smart
OREM — Bear River is halfway home in its quest to end a half-century long state title drought in wrestling.
Following the opening day of the 3A state tournament at UVU on Friday, Bear River sits in first place with 110 points, followed by Juab in second with 95 points.
The Bears, who last won a state title in 1966, qualified nine wrestlers into Saturday’s semifinals compared to just six for Juab.
“We’re excited to be in the position were in. Our kids have worked really hard,” said Bear River coach Jeff Smart. “But we know there’s going to have to be more. We can’t let off the gas.”
Smart would like to have advanced a couple more kids to the semifinals, but said the couple heartbreakers that unfolded on Friday are typical at a state tournament
Bear River’s big guns rolled as expected, led by Holden Richards (126), Cooper Kinner (138), Kaygen Canfield (145) and Jordan Watson (195). It got a pleasant surprise when Josh Madsen (285) won in overtime to advance to the semis.
Of Juab’s six semifinalists, big guns Gentry Warner (106), Mason Mangelson (145) and Ashton Seely (182) move on easily with pins in the first two rounds.
“They have a great group of kids, they’re tough,” said Smart. “It’s going to be tough, we’ve known that from the start. But we’re here to win too.”
Cedar sits in third place after Day 1 with 72 points, followed by Morgan in fourth with 69 points and Desert Hills in fifth with 67.5 points. The team title, however, has become a two-team race.
Bear River and Juab only wrestle head to head in two semifinal matches on Saturday morning. At 106 pounds Juab’s Warner and Bear River’s Zack Bingham square off, and then at 160 pounds Bear River’s Bryken Jensen and Juab’s Joey Aagard face off.
The 3A state meet is the first time Bear River and Juab have squared off this season, so there’s intrigue in any head-to-head match on Saturday.
1. Bear River, 110; 2. Juab, 95; 3. Cedar, 72; 4. Morgan, 69; 5. Desert Hills, 67.5; 6. Tooele, 63.5; 7. Canyon View, 56.5; 8. Snow Canyon, 52.5.
106 — Jate Frost, Union vs. Anthony Herrera, Stansbury; Gentry Warner, Juab vs. Zack Bingham, Bear River.
113 — Brady Knight, Tooele vs. Ryan Ball, Canyon View; Randal Donn, Pine View vs. Brad Judd, Carbon.
120 — Michael Wilson, Stansbury vs. Jayce Lind, Juab; Brady Lowery, Canyon View vs. Kody Hafen, Snow Canyon.
126 — Carlitos Nava, Morgan vs. Zayden Rowley, Desert Hills; Parker Elison, Union vs. Holden Richards, Bear River.
132 — Raynger Keckler, Logan vs. Kenyon Green, Union; Chance Bundy, Desert Hills vs. Antonio Nava, Morgan.
138 — Cooper Kinner, Bear River vs. Hobbs Nyberg, Dixie; Gatlin Peterson, North Sanpete vs. Lance Sanchez, Logan.
145 — Kaygen Canfield, Bear River vs. Tanner Terry, Desert Hills; Mason Mangelson, Juab vs. James Wilson, Cedar.
152 — David Carreau, Tooele vs. Brady Jones, Desert Hills; Liam Williams, Desert Hills vs. Bracken Stokes, Bear River.
160 — Bryken Jensen, Bear River vs. Joey Aagard, Juab; Eric Gourde, Canyon View vs. Jason Weekes, Logan.
170 — Owen Pentz, Morgan vs. Hunter Kincaid, Ben Lomond; Quaid Murray, Cedar vs. Brier Bryan, Juab.
182 — Jackson Gavin, Tooele vs. Cutler Thomas, Dixie; Ashton Seely, Juab vs. Tanner Nelson, Snow Canyon.
195 — Chase Trussell, Morgan vs. Hootchy Brewer, North Sanpete vs. McCrae Murray, Cedar vs. Jordan Watson, Bear River.
220 — Wyatt Ekblad, Morgan vs. Dallyn Mower, Carbon; Nathan Ellis, Cedar vs. Nathan Heppler, Bear River.
285 — Josh Madsen, Bear River vs. Jaxson Kendall, Tooele; Floyd Kimber, Cedar vs. Bundy Sewell, Desert Hills.
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org