OREM — From 2011 to 2016 there may not have been a better wrestling program in the state of Utah than the one at Pleasant Grove High School. Delta and Wasatch could certainly argue otherwise, as those schools collected five and two state championships, respectively, during that stretch, but the six straight titles won by the Vikings were the most in the state.
Not only that, they were earned at the highest classification of high schools sports in the state, making it a championship run on par with any of the great wrestling dynasties in Beehive State history.
Then 2017 happened.
Devoid of their characteristic depth and experience, the Vikings watched as the Layton Lancers claimed the state title.
This season offered Pleasant Grove a chance to return to the mountaintop, and after the first day of the state championships, held at UVU’s UCCU Center on Wednesday, the Vikings are well on their way.
Pleasant Grove, led by their lone defending champion Maika Tauteoli, racked up a classification-best team score of 128.5, 23 more points than second place Layton.
The Vikings advanced eight wrestlers to the semifinals, a group led by Tauteoli.
One of the best wrestlers in Utah, Tauteoli was particularly dominant on Wednesday.
The 220-pounder won both of his matches in convincing fashion, pinning Hunter’s Glen Thompsen and Weber’s Cameron Peterson in under 40 seconds.
A man of few words, Tauteoli was nonetheless clear about how felt his day went.
“It feels good,” said Tauteoli.
The defending individual champion was also unconcerned with whomever his opponents on Thursday might be, noting that his potential finals matchup would be against either Layton’s Jon Hunt or Hillcrest’s Keala Mahe and that he didn’t have a preference so far as who he faced.
“(I’m) not sure (who I’d rather face),” said Tauteoli. “Maybe the Hillcrest guy or the Layton guy.”
It was that business-like attitude that propelled the Vikings to the top all day long.
In addition to Tauteoli, Zeke Kelley (113), Oakley Ridge (120), Luis Garcia and William Zorn (132), Anthony Ridge (138), Jaxon Moore (152) and Harrison Sperry (160) advanced to the semis, giving Pleasant Grove a great chance at redemption.
“It feels good, after the (team) loss last year,” said Tauteoli.
Following Pleasant Grove in the standings were the defending champions Layton Lancers, who managed to hold off the Herriman Mustangs 105.5-105.0 for second place after a day of competition.
Leading the way for the Lancers were Terrell Barraclough (126), Isaac Fisher (132) and Tyson Humphreys (138), among others. In total, Layton advanced seven wrestlers to the semifinals.
The Mustangs, meanwhile, were the surprise of the day, after they had finished well behind the Vikings in last weekend’s Divisional A qualifying meet.
Herriman advanced six wrestlers to the semis, led by stalwarts Logan Jensen (152) and Dylan Chavez (138).
Filling out the top five, as far as the team competition went, were the Syracuse Titans (87.5) and the American Fork Cavemen (77.0).
The Titans were led by Tucker Bartels (195) and the Cavemen by Ian Filoso (285).
Other notable semi-finalists and individual title favorites include Bingham’s Cole Moody (182) and Weber’s Brady Briskey (285)
1. Pleasant Grove 128.5; 2. Layton 105.5; 3. Herriman 105.0; 4. Syracuse 93.5; 5. American Fork 77.0; 6. Fremont 73.5; 7. Bingham 71.5; 8. Weber 49.5; 9. Davis 46.5; 10. Hunter 37.0.
106 — River Wardle, Herriman vs. Marco Herrera, Bingham; Aiden Harris, Layton vs. Gage Ogden, Herriman.
113 — Jacob Finlinson, Westlake vs. Mason Denton, Fremont; Tayton Bennett, Fremont vs. Zeke Kelley, Pleasant Grove.
120 — Oakley Ridge, Pleasant Grove vs. Coalton Jackson, Fremont; Kegan Leatherow, Fremont vs. Parker Coffey, Davis.
126 — Rhett Miner, American Fork vs. Bridger Ostler, Syracuse; Terrell Barraclough, Layton vs. Easton Halliday, Herriman.
132 — Luis Garcia, Pleasant Grove vs. Isaac Fisher, Layton; Kam Moss, Bingham vs. William Zorn, Pleasant Grove.
138 — Anthony Ridge, Pleasant Grove vs. Payton Clark, Bingham; Tyson Humphreys, Layton vs. Dylan Chavez, Herriman.
145 — Josh Bartholomew, American Fork vs. Canyon Brann, Layton; Braden Henson, Taylorsville vs. Dan Waddoups, Davis.
152 — Logan Jensen, Herriman vs. Samuel Sprehn, Syracuse; Alec Bolingbroke, Layton vs. Jaxon Moore, Pleasant Grove.
160 — Carson Bowdren, Herriman vs. Harrison Sperry, Pleasant Grove; Caleb Schulte, Taylorsville vs. Trendon Dunn, Davis.
170 — Connor Sandstrom, American Fork vs. Jeff Hardy, Fremont; Mason Christians, Bingham vs. Lochlan Pearce, Weber.
182 — Zachary Durbano, Weber vs. Jayden Burton, Syracuse; Cole Moody, Bingham vs. Dakota Buckner, Copper Hills.
195 — Tristan Carman, Herriman vs. Weston Memmott, Layton; Tucker Bartels, Syracuse vs. Sterling Hansen, Riverton.
220 — Maika Tauteoli, Pleasant Grove vs. Robert George, Syracuse; Jon Hunt, Layton vs. Keala Mahe, Hillcrest.
285 — Brady Briskey, Weber vs. Weston Warr, Fremont; Kaden Montano, Syracuse vs. Ian Filoso, American Fork.