OREM — When Fremont wrestler Ronnie Wardleigh lost in the championship match last year, he said it was a "terrible feeling." It is something he doesn't want to have happen again this season.
"I know what I have to do to go just that one more step," said Wardleigh who advanced back to the title match with a semifinal win over Cody Paraso of West Jordan. "I have worked hard all year to get back here, and now I have just one more match, one more thing I need to do."
Four of the five returning state champions are still looking for a repeat as Carson Kuhn of Alta (119 pounds), Kade Moss of Bingham (135), Danner Kjar of Viewmont (145) and Jed Craner of Fremont (171) won in the semifinal round Thursday night. Layton's Brayden Humpherys was the only defending state champion that was upset as Pleasant Grove's Korbin Levin beat him.
There will be eight new state champions, and like Wardleigh, there are plenty of state placers looking to be one of them.
"I think the biggest thing is to just go out there mentally ready," said West Jordan's Jacob Falk, a runner-up last year. "I have worked even harder this year, and my coaches have done a good job getting me ready."
The 140-pound weight class is almost certainly the toughest weight class as all four semifinalists finished in the top-4 last season.
"I know how it feels to be on the other end, and I just want to make sure it doesn't happen again," said Weber's Cody Van Buren — who finished third last year— after beating Cottonwood's Spencer Brown, also a third-place finisher a year ago. "I think that I have simply worked harder and gotten to be a better wrestler because of that work."
Viewmont's Mitch Rasmussen lost a narrow 3-2 decision in last year's championship as a junior. He feels that with one more year of experience he's ready for the next step.
"I have been getting ready for this my whole life and I think it is just my time," he said. "My coaches have done a great job getting me ready and I owe a lot to them, but overall, I have just improved at every aspect and I am ready now."
In the team race, Pleasant Grove overtook Viewmont following the last consolation round of the evening. The Utah County Vikings lead 151.5 points to 147.5. Bingham is in third with 128 points after leading at the close of Day 1. The Miners are followed closely by Weber at 124.5, and Layton and West Jordan round out the top-6 at 114.5 and 102, respectively.
"I don't know what will happen for sure, but we are going to have to wrestle really well to hold on to third," said Bingham coach Matt Walker.
"It is going to be a dog fight," said Viewmont coach Brandon Ripplinger. "We are going to have to win a lot of matches tomorrow because Pleasant Grove is tough and has a lot of good kids left wrestling."
The wrestling continues today with 1A, 2A and 3A joining the action starting at 11 a.m. The 4A and 5A championships begin at 6:45 p.m.
5A STATE WRESTLING
1, Pleasant Grove 151.5; 2, Viewmont 147.5; 3, Bingham 128; 4, Weber 124.5; 5, Layton 114.5; 6, West Jordan 102; 7, Skyline 83.5; 8, Alta 76.5; 9, Syracuse 70; 10, Davis 56.
Individual championship matches
103 — Josh Boman, Syracuse vs. Rami Haddadin, Brighton
112 — Korbin Levin, PG vs. Ronnie Wardleigh, Fremont
119 — Abraham Hernandez, Kearns vs. Carson Kuhn, Alta
125 — Brody Quintana, Layton vs. Mark Michels, Alta
130 — Derek Malan, Weber vs. Jacob Falk, WJ
135 — Kade Moss, Bingham vs. Scott Newman, AF
140 — Cody Van Buren, Weber vs. Brett Clapier, Skyline
145 — Danner Kjar, Viewmont vs. Jayce Warren, Weber
152 — Mitch Rasmussen, Viewmont vs. Jordan Schroeder, Murray
160 — Jantz Arbon, Weber vs. Mitch McCloy, Viewmont
171 — Jed Craner, Fremont vs. Sam Jensen, Viewmont
189 — Tyler Birch, WJ vs. Garrett Battaglia, Skyline
215 — Dustin Dennison, PG vs. Duke Babka, Jordan
285 — Kesni Tausinga, Bingham vs. Tyler Larsen, Syracuse