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High school wrestling: Delta repeats as 3A champions

Delta's Derek Peterson, right, wrestles against Union's Anthony Small during the 3A state tournament on Saturday.
Delta's Derek Peterson, right, wrestles against Union's Anthony Small during the 3A state tournament on Saturday.
Michael Brandy, Deseret News

OREM — Delta seniors Derek Peterson, Justin Penn and Brendan Willoughby may feel like they experienced a little deja vu at the 3A state wrestling tournament — but they wouldn't want it any other way.

For the trio, the 2010 tournament had an eerily familiar outcome as last season as each repeated as individual state champion, and they each helped contribute as Delta ran away with the team title.

"Winning never gets old," said Penn, who won his third consecutive state title with a pin in the 145-pound final. "This one is definitely a little more special just knowing that it is the last chance I had to wrestle in high school. They have all been great, but this one just means more."

While he may have been a little reflective following his third title, Penn joked what was the key to his success.

"My muscles," he said.

While Penn kidded about the reason for he claimed three straight titles, his teammate Peterson thinks it is simple what separates the Rabbits from the rest of the pack.

"We win a lot of close matches because coach (Josh) Wright works our tails off in the (practice) room," Peterson added. "We work so hard so that when the last two minutes get there, we are mentally and physically prepared for it. Our specialty is being able to finish off a round."

While Peterson may attribute his success to Wright, the coach said it is the other way around.

"It is rewarding to see all the hard work and many hours put in pay off for these guys. They deserve all the credit," said Wright. "They work hard all summer, and they are a great group of guys. I am proud to say that I have been involved in their lives the last couple of years. They are turning out to be tremendous young men."

Delta was happy with the familiar feeling, but there were several wrestlers pleased to see a new outcome. Cedar's Cody Hone lost in the finals in each of the past two seasons, so his 125-pound title was extra sweet.

"It feels good to finally get over the hedge," said Hone. "I have worked so hard and my coaches and teammates have pushed me to get better. It is the best feeling ever, especially after knowing what it is like to lose this one."

Wasatch 103-pound wrestler Gerritt Bradley experienced the pain of losing in the championship last season as well, but his win this year gave him a much better feeling.

"I was more prepared this year," said Bradley. "Last year, I was really just happy to get to the championship match, but this year, I would have been disappointed with anything less than a title."

Wasatch finished second in the team race with 236.5 points compared to Delta's 342.5. Morgan was third with 162.5 and Hurricane fourth at 141.5. Canyon View (115) and Cedar (92) round out the top six.

Other individual winners included: Bryce Jackman of Carbon (112), Taggart Harris of Delta (119), Jace Abbott of Delta (130), Zach Prince of Hurricane (140), Matthew Gallen of Morgan (152), Zach Boden of Ben Lomond (171), Kaleb Moritz of Wasatch (189), Brian Scott of Hurricane (215) and Daniel Nielson of Hurricane (285).

With the title, Delta gets to enjoy its traditional state-title celebration...

"We are going to go back home and take a ride on the fire engine and then see where the night takes us," said Peterson.

One place the Rabbits will certainly end up after the party is over is back on the mats.

"We'll go home and enjoy this one for a couple of days and then it is back to work," Wright said.

When asked if that meant Delta would be getting the three-peat next year, Wright said he wouldn't go that far.

"No comment," he said. "You won't get me saying that. I know how hard it is to win this thing."

e-mail: mblack@desnews.com