BOUNTIFUL — The scene behind the action on the mats at a prep wrestling tournament can appear to be chaos. In a way, it is. But it is a controlled chaos.
"I feel like it has been a full-time job for the last month or so just trying to get this thing ready to go," said Viewmont coach Brandon Ripplinger in the midst of running the prestigious Viewmont Invitational Friday and Saturday. "There is so much that goes into one of these. I doubt anyone that hasn't done it before realizes the amount of work and preparation that goes into one of these.
"We have to get table workers, runners, officials and then actually organize the brackets and stuff. It is a lot of fun for the participants, but can be a headache for the organizers."
Of course, all that hard work has its rewards as teams and coaches pay tribute.
"This is one of the best tournaments all year," said Mountain Crest coach Davie Swensen, whose team finished in third place. "This is where you want to come to gauge just how tough your team really is. For an individual to win here, it is much tougher than a state championship because you have to get through all the wrestlers at that weight regardless of the classification."
The Viewmont Invitational has an established reputation, and this year's edition lived up to the billing. It featured upsets, such as Tucker Ray of Box Elder getting a 3-2 decision over two-time state champion Kade Moss. And boasted the established champions such as the Lofthouse brothers, Raider and Ethen, both defending state-title winners who won their respective weight classes.
The team competition proved there is a definite new contender in 4A, as Payson outdistanced the competition with a 40-point tournament win over Box Elder. Millard proved that smaller schools can still compete with the big boy in wrestling. The Eagles finished fourth, but only four points away from second, and had two individual champs in Kamron Day and Sergio Pedroza.
"Our guys love to come find out where they stand," said Millard coach Blake Turner. "This is a great event. We love coming up here and wrestle against some of the best. We have done OK but still have room to improve."
Although relieved to have it finished, Ripplinger is happy to put on a successful tournament.
"It is nice to be able to put something together for the wrestlers and their fans," he said. "The fans are passionate about their sport, so to have a great place to come and celebrate it is important to keep the sport going."
GRIZZLIES GET NEW/OLD COACH: Copper Hills named a new football coach from a familiar place. Ka'I Kapele coached the Grizzlies in some capacity for eight years before taking the last two seasons off to focus on his family. He is back as the man in charge.
"It was a great opportunity to come back to coaching at the school where I work," he said. "It was the only position I applied for as head coach. It just worked out."
Kapele feels that it will take some work but that the Grizzlies can have success on the field.
"We are going to get back to fundamentals and how to execute football plays," said Kapele. "If we do that, we can build off of that. We are also going to try to balance out the offense and run the ball. We've been known to throw the ball, but our offensive philosophy is going back to a more balanced attack, that, and play solid defense."