If the state wrestling championships in February look anything like what happened Tuesday night at the UCCU Center in Orem, fans and spectators alike will be in for a real treat.
In the 23rd annual Ross Brunson All-Star Duals, some of the state’s top boys wrestlers went head-to-head and showcased why many are looking forward to a competitive final month-and-a-half of the season. At the end of the night, it was the Wildcard team, a combination of grapplers from all classifications, topping all other boys teams with a final score of 51.0. The 3A/4A and 5A/6A teams finished in a tie for second, each posting a 31.0.
Helping the Wildcard team notch the victory was Bingham’s Banks Love, who defeated Payson’s Trevor Frank in the 157-pound division. One of the featured matches of the night, Love controlled most of the contest, ultimately wining by fall.
“I was down a little bit in the beginning, but I never give up. You’re never out of the match if you keep wrestling the whole time,” said Love.
“I knew he was going to come out hard and that I was going to have to match it for the entire match.”
Uintah’s Austin Richens also helped contribute to the overall win by doing what he has done all year long, win by a pin in the first period. The two-time defending champion took down Woods Cross’ Cash Henderson to continue his dominant season, having just come off a tournament of champions title last Saturday.
Richens, a favorite to take home a state title in February, credits his prematch preparation and fast starts for much of his early season success.
“It’s probably because I always come out as aggressive as I can in the first period,” said Richens of his current win streak. “I make sure that I am doing exactly what I need to do to win all the time so that no one can beat me.”
Although not part of the Wildcard team, Mountain Ridge’s Kyison Garcia collected one of the more dramatic wins of the night when he knocked off Payson’s Colton Theobald. Trailing 2-1 at the end of the first period, Garcia flipped momentum and gained control of the match, ultimately winning by decision 12-6.
It was an emotional victory for Garcia, who was competing two weight classes above what he will when the state championship rolls around.
“I actually do better when I’m down because then my hands and feet start moving and I know I’ve got to score,” Garcia said. “I knew I was going to be smaller but knew that if I could keep my hands and my feet moving, I could get the result I wanted.”
Helping lead the 1A/2A team was Millard’s KC Whitaker, who won by decision over Morgan’s Rylee Creasy 7-3. Being from a small school didn’t faze Whitaker in the 190-pound division contest, as the Eagle grappler feels the win will only help him moving forward.
“It’s definitely a little bit harder because no one expects a 2A kid to go compete, but I pride myself on pushing myself,” said Whitaker. “State in 2A is not this level of a tournament, but you still have to be ready for it to go and dominate. That’s my goal.”
While Tuesday’s results may not directly impact what happens during the state finals in February, many of the state’s top wrestlers believe the experience can only help prepare them to achieve their highest goals.
“It gives me a lot of confidence,” said Pleasant Grove’s Trevyn Gates, who defeated Payson’s Landen Shurtleff in the 190-pound division. “I just wanted to show everyone what I’ve got.”
“I’m thankful for a lot of the kids that are here,” said Richens. “They push me and motivate me to make myself better.”
Kaleb Blakener, Roy def. Kolter Kelly, Millard, 10-2
Breyton Banks, Salem Hills def. Monty Christiansen, Emery, 7-5
Cody Dyches, North Sanpete def. Dak Eldredge, Millard, 11-1
Lander Bosh, Mountain Ridge def. Karson Shelley, Spanish Fork, 15-9
Mason Carlson, Syracuse def. Cody Dyches, North Sanpete, fall 5:06
Camden Moat, Millard def. Carter Nelson, Mountain Crest, fall 4:34
Dillion Ivie, Altamont def. Tyler Vivanco, Corner Canyon, 4-2
Jason Worthley, Fremont def. Hagen Mayer, Milford, fall 3:53
Dyson Torgerson, Richfield def. Easton Evans, Mountain Crest, 10-3
Jacob Carson, Pleasant Grove def. Austin Paris, Grand County, 6-5
Drew Korth, Morgan def. Sam Rasmussen, Millard, 11-8
Austin Kelly, Wasatch def. Andrew Fox, ALA, 2-1
Dax Nicoll, Canyon View def. Gatlen Farnsworth, Duchesne, 9-8
Kyison Garcia, Mountain Ridge def. Colton Theobald, Payson, 12-6
Ryder Robinson, Wasatch def. McKray Gayler, Piute, SV 9-8
Brenden Smith, Snow Canyon def. Doug Evans, Beaver, 10-6
Brayden Robison, Westlake def. Chase Ingram, Juab, fall 3:48
Bradlee Farrer, Pleasant Grove def. Quaid Thompson, Milford, 5-2
Banks Love, Bingham def. Trevor Frank, Payson, fall 5:55
Jace McBride, Mountain Crest def. Kaden Turner, Millard, 9-5
Riggin Boger, South Summit def. Isaac Orrock, Murray, fall 3:34
Moses Espinoza-Owens, Viewmont def. Cael Houston, Panguitch, fall 4:23
Chandler Loveless, Payson def. Bryant Mullins, Altamont, 8-3
Marcus Espinoza-Owens, Viewmont def. Will Harmon, Juab, 13-6
Trevyn Gates, Pleasant Grove def. Landen Shurtleff, Payson, 6-5
KC Whitaker, Millard def. Rylee Creasy, Morgan, 7-3
Austin Richens, Uintah def. Cash Henderson, Woods Cross, fall 1:46
Vincent Threlfall, Snow Canyon def. Cole Harland, Panguitch, fall 3:38
Gage Howard, Uintah def. Aidan Crawford, Dixie, 6-1
Isaac Terrell, Lehi def. Callan Burke, San Juan, 19-8