OREM — After his team fell short at the hands of the Viewmont Vikings in last year’s state tournament, Wasatch head coach Wade Discher decided to make some changes to his program.
First and foremost among those: the development of depth.
Wasatch hadn’t and still doesn’t lack for star-powered wrestlers, what with the Zak Kohlers, Stockton O’Briens and Sammy Heywoods of the world littering the Wasps' roster.
The depth behind them was an issue, however.
“Last year we took second to Viewmont and they had the numbers,” Discher said. “They had those second-tier (consolation round) kids who weren’t as experienced and they just blew us out of the water. I thought we had the better team, but with six classifications you need to have numbers. You need to have people scoring.”
With an eye on a return to the top of 5A wrestling, Discher and the Wasps worked diligently all season to develop that depth.
“I changed our schedule this year,” Discher said. “I really tried to focus on that. We sent our well-known kids to national tournaments, and I stayed back (with the rest of our team). We went to three or four Utah tournaments where those kids could get more mat time and more experience. We really tried to tend to the development of those kids, because if we are going to win (state) as a team that is where it is at.”
After Day 1 of the state tournament, the work appears to have paid off.
When competition ended Wednesday night at Utah Valley University’s UCCU Center, Wasatch was in first place, with 121 points.
The Wasps advanced nine wrestlers to Thursday’s semifinals, including Kohler, O’Brien and Heywood and Mitchel Slack.
As for Discher’s depth concerns, Wasatch did well enough. The Wasps had five wrestlers advance in the consolation round, leaving the team with 14 total wrestlers heading into the final day of competition.
“The kids wrestled pretty well. I think every one of them came out on fire today,” Discher said. “I was really proud of them collectively as a team. Some of them were tight, but they overcame that.”
In second place with 112 points were the Box Elder Bees. Jed Craner’s wrestlers managed to keep pace with the Wasps for much of the night, and advanced five wrestlers of their own to the semifinals.
Among those were Lucas Cochran and Ryan Gunn.
Both Gunn, a standout in the 285-pound weight class, and Cochran (182 pounds) were dominant, winning by fall in each and every match.
Despite both teams' successes, there is only the potential for one championship round matchup between Wasatch and Box Elder, at 106 pounds, between Bridger Ricks (Box Elder) and Tristan Ocana (Wasatch).
Tied for third place were defending champion Viewmont Vikings and the Skyridge Falcons with 92 points. Viewmont advanced five wrestlers to the semis, Skyridge seven. Rounding out the top five were the Maple Mountain Golden Eagles with 71.5 points.
Action will resume in the 5A state tournament Thursday morning at 11 a.m., with the semifinals. The finals will commence at 5:15 pm.
At UCCU Center
- Wasatch, 121; 2. Box Elder, 112; 3. Skyridge, 92; Viewmont, 92; 5. Maple Mountain, 71.5; 6. Farmington, 54.5; 7. Murray, 50; 8. Corner Canyon, 48.5; 9. Timpanogos, 45.
106 — Bridger Ricks, Box Elder vs. Colin Sierer, Highland; Brock Morris, Maple Mountain vs. Tristan Ocana, Wasatch
113 — Drew Lang, West vs. Colton Ward, Box Elder; Wyatt Romriell, Box Elder vs. Joshua Millward, Skyridge
120 — Mitchel Slack, Wasatch vs. Jayden Adamson, Skyridge; Cooper Cox, Maple Mountain vs. Deklan Kelly, Wasatch
126 — River Wardle, Wasatch vs. Declan Morris, Maple Mountain; Karson Rees, Viewmont; Colby Eastmond, Skyridge
132 — Sammy Heywood, Wasatch vs. Mattias Osthed, Corner Canyon; Donald Butler, Roy vs. Hadley Cowan, Skyridge
138 — Stockton O’Brien, Wasatch vs. Jameson Burnett, Viewmont; Conway Christensen, Murray vs. Austin Gillette, Farmington
145 — Zak Kohler, Wasatch vs. Spencer Maxwell, Jordan; Lorince Essig, Viewmont vs. Rylan Stevens, Brighton
152 — Jack Lang, West vs. Holland Knudsen, Timpanogos; Jeremy Evans, Viewmont vs. James Hornberger, Skyridge
160 — Brock Lloyd, Wasatch vs. Cannon Taylor, Murray; Isaac Wilcox, Olympus vs. Aaron Mele, SpringvilleComment on this story
170 — Porter Chamberlain, Wasatch vs. Elijah Kratzer, Timpanogos; Zack Johnson, Maple Mountain vs. Trace Muse, Skyridge
182 — Lucas Cochran, Box Elder vs. Paul Clark, Highland; Parker Gasser, Maple Mountain vs. Jake Anderson, Farmington
195 — Dawson Woods, Alta vs. Alex Eidem, Timpanogos; Tyson Zesiger, Viewmont vs. Ernest Barlow, Skyridge
220 — Cael Richardson, Timpview; Emerson Conlon, Olympus; Kade Carlson, Corner Canyon vs. Breyden Jorgensen, Timpanogos
285 — Ryan Gunn, Box Elder vs. Joseph Watson, Jordan; Daniel Tuiono, East vs. James Tomasi, Provo