OREM — Heading into the first day of the 5A state tournament, Wasatch head coach Wade Discher had high hopes for his team.
Sure, outside of a few stalwarts, the defending state champs are young and relatively inexperienced, but they appeared to be peaking at the opportune moment.
“This group is coming of age at the right time,” Discher told the Deseret News. “I am excited to see what they can do. I think we will see their best this week.”
The Payson Lions, for their part, expected much of the same of themselves. Defending state champs in their own right, the Lions boasted their own studs, as well as the requisite up-and-comers needed to take home the title.
Everything pointed to a showdown between the Lions and the Wasps and neither team disappointed Wednesday in tournament action at UVU’s UCCU Center.
A measly 4.5 points separates the Lions and Wasps at the close of first day of competition, with Payson leading with 125 points and Wasatch right behind with 120.5. Rounding out the top five teams were the Box Elder Bees with 79 points, followed by the Mountain View Bruins (75) and the Viewmont Vikings (60).
The competition between Payson and Wasatch was fierce throughout the day, with lead changes a frequent occurrence. Wrestlers on both sides could be heard talking about the necessity of the other team losing matches in order for their own team to keep pace.
Neither side was quick to acquiesce, though, and each team advanced nine wrestlers to the semifinals.
Leading the way for Wasatch were Stockton O’Brien (145), Sammy Heywood (138), Deklan Kelley (120) and River Wardle (132), among others.
“The kids wrestled pretty well,” said Discher. “I was really proud of them collectively as a team.”
Payson was paced by Eduardo Cabrera (106), Cole Jensen (120), Wyatt Hone (126) and Deegan Palmer (132).
While the focus was understandably on Payson and Wasatch, the Box Elder Bees and the Mountain View Bruins had a bit of a dogfight themselves for third place. Early in the day the Bees were well ahead, but steadily the Bruins chipped away at the lead.
Box Elder qualified five wrestlers for the semis, including Bridger Ricks (113), Caleb Marx (152) and Lucas Cochran (182), while Mountain View will have six semifinalists, including Hunter Charlton (145), Cody Burr (106) and Radi Stafford (170).
Semifinal action will commence Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m., with the championship finals slated to begin at 4:45 p.m.
At UCCU Center
1. Payson, 125; 2. Wasatch, 120.5; 3. Box Elder, 79; Mountain View, 75; 5. Viewmont, 60; 6. Farmington, 48; 7. Mountain Ridge, 47; 8. Maple Mountain, 42; 9. Timpview, 34.
106 — Eduardo Cabrera, Payson vs. Cody Burr, Mountain View; Kyison Garcia, Mountain Ridge, vs. Jacob Waddoups, Farmington.
113 — Heath Clyde, Wasatch, vs. Brock Morris, Maple Mountain; Bridger Ricks, Box Elder, vs. Ryder Robinson, Wasatch.
120 — Deklan Kelly, Wasatch vs. Cam Ford, Payson; Cole Jensen, Payson vs. Austin Kelly, Wasatch.
126 — Treyson Davis, Wasatch vs. Layne Shepherd, Payson; Wyatt Hone, Payson, vs. Colton Erickson, Woods Cross.
132 — Parker Frasure, Farmington vs. Cooper Cox, Maple Mountain; Deegan Palmer, Payson vs. River Wardle, Wasatch.
138 — Sammy Heywood, Wasatch vs. Conway Christensen, Murray; Anthonee Ouk, Brighton, vs. Dawson Shepherd, Spanish Fork.
145 — Stockton O’Brien, Wasatch vs. Cruz Johnson, Mountain Ridge; Hunter Charlton, Mountain View vs. Moses Espinoza, Viewmont.
152 — Marcus Espinoza, Viewmont vs. Rylan Stevens, Mountain Ridge; Caleb Marx, Box Elder vs. Austin Gillette, Farmington.
160 — Jeremy Evans, Viewmont vs. Monson Morley, Salem Hills; Quinlin Jackson, Maple Mountain vs. Alex Zesiger, Viewmont.
170 — Brock Lloyd, Wasatch vs. Radi Stafford, Mountain View; Andrew Jensen, Maple Mountain vs. Tucker Naccarato, Payson.
182 — David Fox, Timpview vs. Elijah Stafford, Mountain View; Lucas Cochran, Box Elder vs. Conner Morris, Timpview.
195 — Jacob Anderson, Farmington vs. Carson Lancaster, Box Elder; Louis Williams, Payson vs. Christian Smoot, Woods Cross.
220 — Cael Richardson, Timpview vs. Christopher Esparza, Mountain View; Sau Tafisi, East vs. Aaron Carty, Bonneville.
285 — James Tomasi, Provo vs. Kellen Collier, Box Elder; Ryley Horrocks, Mountain View vs. C.J. Vasquez, Payson.