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High school wrestling: Miners are the heavyweights of Region 3 meet

SOUTH JORDAN — The Region 3 championship wrestling meet took place at Bingham High School on Thursday afternoon.

Competition started immediately after the final school bell rang and, from the opening bell at 3 p.m. until just after 8 p.m., over 400 separate matches took place — all leading up to the eager anticipation for a championship match in the heavyweight division between Bingham teammates Kesni Tausinga and Seni Fauonuku.

As Tausinga's impressive individual stats echoed across the loudspeaker, the audience witnessed an intimidating figure put on his skull cap, vanishing pounds of hair in the process. The first-place wrestler made his way to the center of the mat and waited as the crowd grew silent in anticipation.

However, Tausinga and the Miners had a trick up their sleeves. Earlier, the team had decided — because the two wrestlers were ranked first and second, respectively, in their weight division and are thought to be the favorites to contend for the state title — that it would be the safest and most efficient decision to have Fauonuku forfeit the match, allowing both athletes to have ample time to rest and recover, without the risk of injury.

"Our coaches didn't really want anyone to get injured, between me and Seni. And I'm ranked first and he's ranked second, and we'll most likely meet in the finals at state, so we're just trying to hype it up for that and get a bunch of anticipation for that," stated Tausinga.

"I feel pretty good. Last year, it felt good to get second. I'm pretty psyched — hopefully I can come out with the win. Seni is lookin' good this year along with a lot of other guys in 5A," continued Tausinga, "As of right now, I'm just thinkin' about Seni, I'm trying not to overlook anyone else. I don't know, I guess he's the best guy."

Throughout the evening, one match stood out above the rest as far as excitement was concerned. In the championship bout of the 152-pound classification, Mason Grant of West Jordan edged out Casey Thompson of Riverton to capture the region title.

"It was a tough match, he was a tough kid. I just went out there and I was aggressive, and it turned out for the better," said Grant. "I've got pretty good endurance. I do a lot of running and I've been working with my brother on technique, so I'm getting pretty good there. I feel I have a pretty job at placing (at state), at least third or fourth."

At the conclusion of the day, the favored Miners upheld expectations and captured the Region 3 tournament crown with a combined total of 362 points, outscoring second-place West Jordan by 25 points. Kearns took third place with 243 points, followed by Riverton at 223.5, Taylorsville 172 and Copper Hills 137.5.

The top three finishers in every classification quailified for the 5A state tournament next week at Utah Valley University.