Everybody knew coming into the 4A state wrestling tournament that it was a three-team race for first. With Mountain Crest winning at 239 points, Box Elder second at 226.5 and Springville third with 211, the big question was which team would rise to the occasion and grab fourth?
The answer was Cyprus. The Pirates wrestled as well as they could have hoped for to tie for fourth place with Lehi at 124 points.
"I was ecstatic," said Pirates coach Eddie Berrest of the fourth-place finish. "We had guys that stepped up and met their challenges and performed their best when it mattered most. I couldn't be any more proud of how our team responded and came out and wrestled. For us to take fourth was almost like winning the state championship."
Matt Brown was a known champion for the team. After winning a state title as a sophomore, the 135-pound grappler capped a perfect 39-0 season with his second individual title.
"Matt is an amazing wrestler," said Berrest. "He sets such a good example for our team with his work ethic and his desire to be the best. There is a reason he is now a two-time state champion besides just some wrestling talent, and that is all the preparation he puts in to reach his goals."
Besides just setting a good example, Brown's talents probably helped two other seniors reach a top-six finish. Cody Kipp finished fifth at 130 pounds while Keith Williams was fourth at 140. It isn't any accident that the two grapplers in the weights directly next to Brown's had great meets.
"There were definitely some good battles in practice," added Berrest. "Keith is really strong for his weight, so he would beat Matt every now and then, and Cody absolutely learned a lot from partnering up with Matt. Cody stepped up for the tournament and had his best result all year. I was really excited for him."
The Pirates also benefitted from a pair of practice partners in the 215-pound division. Ethan Jones was ranked near the top of the classification all year, so an individual title was nice, but not a stretch.
"Ethan was ranked second almost all season, but he really worked hard and got better as the year wore on," Berrest said. "We really kind of expected him to get to the finals, but for him to get the title was a tremendous accomplishment."
The real surprise came from senior David Hamilton as he advanced to the semifinals before finishing in fifth.
"David dropped about 40 pounds from his football weight to get to his division," said Berrest. "That work alone shows the kind of commitment he had to getting better, and it paid off for him with his showing at the tournament."
Besides the grapplers showing commitment, Berrest demonstrated to the team how far he feels the program has come when he dropped his football coaching duties to concentrate full time on wrestling.
"We were ninth and tenth the last two years, so this program is definitely on the rise," he said. "I think they needed someone to focus on wrestling all the time, to get the team to reach even higher, and the only way we are going to do that is to have some work done in the offseason as well as during the season."
The team took 14 wrestlers to the state meet, and all 14 earned at least some team points by continuing to compete even after a defeat. The good news was seven of those grapplers will be back next year. Brown leads the way along with juniors Anthony Montano and Chase Sudbury. Sophomores Drew Crouch, Justin Straton and Aaron Jolley and freshman Coby Williams will bolster the lineup.
"Next year may be a bit of a transition year, a growing year, but I like the young kids we have," said Berrest. "We have a great little league that is feeding the program, and the kids are starting to taste success, which will only make them hungrier for even more."
130— Cody Kipp, Sr. fifth place
135— Matt Brown, Jr. first place
140— Keith Williams, Sr. fourth place
215— Ethan Jones, Sr. first place
215— David Hamilton, Sr. fifth place
Other Cyprus wrestlers who received points
103— Drew Crouch, So.
103— Justin Straton, So.
112— Chase Sudbury, Jr.
119— Coby Williams, Fr.
125— Anthony Montano, Jr.
145— Aaron Jolley, So.
160— Matthew Gonzales, Sr.
171— Justin Dennis, Sr.
285— Thomas Kane, Sr.