Here's what to look out for at this year's Rockwell Rumble:
This isn't an official weight class but the Utah High School Activites Association has allowed The Rumble to create an experimental weight class. While most of the other divisions will have 60 plus wrestlers, this weight class will have around 30 competitors. And believe it or not, one of Utah's premier female wrestlers is a favorite to contend for the title. American Leadership Academy's (ALA) Sage Mortimer will go in as the third seed with a 17-3 varsity record, all at 106 pounds. Maple Mountain's Brock Morris could be her semifinal opponent. The top seed is Brady Parker from Windsor High School in Colorado Springs area. But this class, with a lot of young wrestlers, will be unpredictable so expect anything to happen.
Like the 98-pound class, a lot of younger wrestlers often brings inconsistent performances where anything can happen. There is a senior wrestler to watch and that is No. 1 seed Zack Bingham of Bear River, a reliable competitor with a sparkling 32-1 record. Freshmen sensation River Wardle of Herriman is the No. 2 seed and lurking is Brandon Paredes, the third seed from Marana Mountain View, Arizona.
Will Vombaur, the son of former Wasatch High School head coach Ben Vombaur, is the favorite in this weight class. Vombaur wrestles out of Windsor. Vombaur sports an 18-1 record. Mountain Crest's Braydon Mogle placed second in 5A state last year at 106 pounds and his length and leverage are hard for any wrestler to deal with. Fremont's Mason Denton is dangerous and Mogle actually beat the Silverwolf sophomore last year in the semifinals of the state tourney. Denton would love to turn the tables. And a wrestler to watch is the No. 9 seed Scott Robertson of Bear River. This freshman star has a 31-2 record and could meet up with the top-seeded Vombaur in the Round of 16..
An absolutely loaded weight class with 74 competitors. This is a deep weight with a lot of quality grapplers. Castle View Colorado's Malik Heinselman is a returning Rumble champ and grabs the top seed while Uintah's Gavin Ayotte with his unblemished 27-0 record will be seeded second. Box Elder's Garrett Ricks, a returning state champion for the Bees, will be the third seed. Unknown to the Utah field will be Marana Mountain View's Jacob Frias and his 23-2 record. And these top wrestlers should definitely not sleep on Pleasant Grove's Oakley Ridge, the fifth seed and a returning state placer with a 28-3 mark.
Another very deep weight class that features returning state champions and place winners. Undefeated Dominick Serrano of Windsor grabs the top seed while the top Utah seed goes to Terrell Barraclough of Layton at No. 2. Barraclough is a two-time state champion and just a junior. Marana Mountain View's Marcus Castillo (34-0) looks to meet Barraclough in the semifinals. Seeds four and five are very good as well with returning two-time state placer Gabe Terry of Mountain View as the fourth seed and returning state finalist and sophomore Sammy Heywood of Wasatch as the fifth seed. Though a seventh seed, ALA's Quenton Mortimer is capable of the upset while on the top side of the bracket Uintah's Randon Deets could pull the shocker from his eighth seed.
Two Utah wrestlers that met at the all-star dual nearly two weeks ago grab the top seeds. Both are sophomores and returning state champions. Wasatch's Stockton O'Brien will be the top seed while Layton's Tyson Humpherys will be seeded No. 2. Marana Mountain View has another top wrestler in Andrew Cota and his sparkling 38-3 record. Hoping to test O'Brien will be Hurricane's Caleb Armstrong, who has shown the ability to pull off the upset. Armstrong grabs the fourth seed while Pleasant Grove's Cole Zorn, a returning state finalist, checks in at No. 5.
O'Brien's Wasatch teammate Zak Kohler is the No. 1 seed. The junior two-time state champ boasts a 32-2 overall record. North Sevier's Shawn Sorensen will be seeded second as Kohler's all-star dual opponent Anthony Herrera of Stansbury is the third seed. Jace Dart of Mountain Crest is dangerous and will be seeded fourth.
The tournament's most decorated wrestler, Brock Hardy of Box Elder, is featured in this weight division. Hardy locked down his All-American status by winning the Reno Tournament of Champions but he's won the Walsh Iron Man Duals and Richardson Memorial while winning at the all-star dual. Nobody has really given Hardy a tough match inside or outside of the state and the Bee wrestler could be just the fifth wrestler to win four Rumble titles. Hardy's opponent from the all-star dual Brady Lowry sports an impressive 28-1 record, his lone loss to Hardy. The second seed goes to a Canadian competitor, one of two in the event. Senior Daniel Coles hopes to get past Lowry and all other challengers to take on the Bee wrestling superstar.
This weight class has some very talented wrestlers including two-time state champion Logan Jensen of Herriman. Jensen has missed some action this year and wrestlers like Altamont's McKay Foy, the second seed, and Bear River's Kaygen Canfield, the third seed, want the gold medal. Foy comes from a long list of brothers who win state titles. Foy (26-3) is a junior that already has two state titles. Canfield won by pin at the all-star dual and has a very exciting style of wrestling. Jensen has to be wary of two wrestlers on his side of the bracket in Riley Noble of Olympus and Pleasant Grove's Jaxon Moore, a junior with a 29-8 record and a Uintah Tournament of Champion title to his credit. Another dangerous wrestler is No. 6 seed Antonio Nava of Morgan. This Trojan grappler took Noble to the brink at the all-star dual losing sudden victory and he placed second in 3A last season.
Noble's Titan teammate Isaac Wilcox with a 25-1 record grabs the top spot. Wilcox's only loss was to Bingham's Cole Moody at the all-star dual by just a 1-0 decision. Wilcox is a returning state champion and placed fourth at the Reno Tournament of Champions. Regrettably, because of the five-match-per-day rule he could not wrestle off for third place. Wilcox wants no part of the consolation bracket at The Rumble but must avoid two very dangerous wrestlers on his side of bracket in North Summit's Taten Ringel (No. 4 seed) and Bingham's Mason Christiansen, the fifth seed. Ringel is a returning state champion and Christiansen is a returning state finalist and just a sophomore. The studs in this weight are multiple and include Mountain Crest's Tanner Lofthouse seeded second and Duchesne's Stockton Moat at the third seed. Lofthouse has come on strong and sports a 34-1 record while Moat is gunning for his fourth state title and has a stunning 29-1 record.
Bingham's Moody, a two-time state champ who recently won the prestigious Doc Buchanan tourney in California, will actually be seeded second as Joey Mazzara of Nevada's Bishop Gorman grabs the top seed. Windsor's Isaiah Salazar grabs the third seed while Delta's Tanner Shield is the fourth seed and hopes to upset Mazzara to make the finals. However, Shields will need to be careful of North Summit's Jace Anderson, the fifth seed, and his 35-2 record.
The Utah wrestler to beat here is Maple Mountain's Brandyn VanTassell. The Golden Eagle returning state champ won at the all-star dual and recently took home the gold at the Uintah Tournament of Champions. However, VanTassell will just be the second seed as Castle View's Tate Samuelson grabs the top seed. This Colorado star grappler won The Rumble last year. A Nevada wrestler, Faith Lutheran's Connor Bourne, will hope to upset VanTassell from his third seed. Samuelson should be wary of Payson's Wyatt Monroe, the fourth seed and his 24-4 record.
Lyman Wyoming's Dryden Menck and his undefeated 20-0 record is worth the top seed. Wasatch's DJ Cohen, a returning state champ and a junior, will be the second seed and is fully capable of climbing to the top of the podium as is third-seeded Tyce Raddon of Beaver. Canyon View's Tyson Healey will be the fourth seed with his shiny 28-1 overall mark. Orem's Cooper Legas with just one loss himself grabs the fifth seed. Healey and Legas are both in 4A and this could be a preview of a state title match in February if both grapplers can take care of business in their bouts before the quarterfinals.
The two favorites here are Morgan's Chase Trussell and Pleasant Grove's Maika Tauteoli. Trussell is a two-time state champ who nailed down All-American status by winning the Reno Tournament of Champions. Trussell also beat Tauteoli at the all-star dual, the Viking wrestler's only loss on the season. Millard's Calun Whitaker with an excellent 34-3 record hopes to spoil this rematch from his third seed. And if you're looking for a possible underdog to emerge, Springville's Simote Iloa, seeded seventh, might be that wrestler.
Nearly as unpredictable as the 106-pound division, the 285-pound weight division should bring some surprises and entertainment for the fans. Weber's Brady Briskey is the top seed and deservedly so as a returning state champ. Briskey has a 14-1 record in 2017-18. Windsor's Victor Bravo is 16-2 and grabs the second seed while Delta's Bradden Davis (28-3) is the third seed. Pleasant Grove's Keegan Wilkinson will hope to upset the apple cart from his fourth seed. American Fork's Ian Filoso, while a seventh seed, is the type of athlete that can't be overlooked.
No out-of-state has won the team race but, on paper, Marana Mountain View out of Arizona or Windsor of Colorado might be the first. 5A powerhouse Wasatch remains the favorite.
Uintah is the most likely Beehive state challenger to the Wasps' dominance. While none of its wrestlers were seeded in the top four, Juab has a very solid team from top to bottom and finished second to the Utes at the Tournament of Champions last weekend. Delta is in the mix as well as are 6A powerhouses Pleasant Grove and Layton. Also keep an eye on Altamont, though the Longhorns are just a 2A program, they have a very strong team and are well coached. Other Utah teams to eyeball include Bear River, Maple Mountain, Millard, Mountain Crest, North Sevier and Payson.
Colorado's Castle View could make a run as well and Nevada's Bishop Gorman and Faith Lutheran look strong also as additional out-of-state programs with trophy aspirations.
Brian Preece is a freelance sportswriter. He was head wrestling coach at Provo High School from 1994-2006. In 2006 Preece was named the Utah Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.