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High school boys wrestling: Uintah breaks 22-year drought with 4A state championship

Uintah’s boys wrestling team celebrates winning the 4A state championship at the Sevier Valley Center.
David Anderson

It’s been a long time since Uintah High School’s wrestling team hoisted a state championship trophy in the air — 22 years to be exact.

That trend ended Saturday night at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield as the Utes scored 332.5 points to unseated Mountain Crest, which took second with 295 points.

“It felt like there were a lot of times things kept going against us and we couldn’t get over that hump,’’ said coach Phil Ketty of the times his team came close but didn’t quite get the title.

Ketty, in his third year as the head coach, said he hopes this means Uintah can come back next year and be a contender when the school moves into the 5A classification.

“We got a group of kids who were just committed and wanted it more than anything this year,” Ketty said. “They worked hard for this not just during the season but in the offseason as well, and it paid off.”

Ketty said the boys battled all day through the tournament.

“It was a lot of guys who were finding ways to win close matches,” Ketty said.

Clayson Mele (120) was the first member of the team to earn individual gold, as he beat Desert Hills’ Nathaniel Fordham in an 8-5 decision match.

“I knew what I was going to do,” Mele said. “I had good coaches who helped me after practice to get to this point.”

Uintah also relied on the experience of Brady Merkley (132), who as a junior earned his third state title Saturday night.

“The key was keeping everything tight,” Merkley said of his championship bout against Cooper Sanders of Mountain Crest. “I figured once I tightened everything up it would work.”

Josh Holmes (138) battled his way to the title match, where he was able to pin Green Canyon’s Mason Morris. Austin Richens (170) also won by fall in the championship round, beating Mountain Crest’s Cael Smith.

William Price (182) completed the team’s slate of wins by fall against Bear River’s Kaeson Burn.

“This is the first year in all my wrestling career I believe I actually deserved to be on that stage,” Prince said. “I had a lot of good teammates and good coaches who led me to this. I wouldn’t be here if not for them and my family.”

Prince said winning the team championship was the result of a brotherhood felt among the team.

“We knew we could depend on each other to do our job,” he said.

Ketty was also named as the outstanding coach of the tournament.

“Everyone gave everything they had,” Ketty said. “I can’t look at a match today and see a kid who wasn’t wrestling hard. They went out and they fought for six minutes in every match. I’m just proud of them and it was a real joy to coach them.”


Class 4A State Tournament

At Sevier Valley Center

Team scores

1. Uintah, 332.5

2. Mountain Crest, 295

3. Bear River, 172.5

4. Ridgeline, 158

5. Snow Canyon, 115

6. Stansbury, 103

7. Green Canyon, 101

8. Desert Hills, 87

Individual results

  • 106 — 1. Easton Evans, Mountain Crest; 2. Parker Hansen, Tooele; 3. Jaxon McCurdy, Uintah; 4. Carter Nelson, Mountain Crest; 5. Asher Farr, Snow Canyon; 6. Corbin Hansen, Crimson Cliffs High
  • 113 — 1. Trenton Ward, Bear River; 2. Brandon Ploehn, Stansbury; 3. Jaren Marx, Pine View; 4. Daxton Darley, Green Canyon; 5. Edgar Renteria, Snow Canyon; 6. Mason Holt, Uintah
  • 120 — 1. Clayson Mele, Uintah; 2. Nathaniel Fordham, Desert Hills; 3. Luke Schroeder, Mountain Crest; 4. Seth Armstrong, Hurricane; 5. Raiden Harrison, Uintah; 6. Miles Winkel, Ogden
  • 126 — 1. Elijah Larsen, Mountain Crest; 2. James Shumway, Green Canyon; 3. Cole Huber, Uintah; 4. Ty Winward, Ridgeline; 5. Lincoln Lofthouse, Mountain Crest; 6. Dilon Wright, Bear River
  • 132 — 1. Brady Merkley, Uintah; 2. Cooper Sanders, Mountain Crest; 3. Jaxon Johnson, Uintah; 4. Jacob Olsen, Canyon View; 5. Korbin Suwyn, Dixie; 6. Brayden Phillips, Stansbury
  • 138 — 1. Josh Holmes, Uintah; 2. Mason Morris, Green Canyon; 3. Terrell Lee, Mountain Crest; 4. Tristyn Dennett, Hurricane; 5. Jacob Rhoades, Uintah; 6. Nelson Munk, Ridgeline
  • 145 — 1. Gabe Sanders, Mountain Crest; 2. Brenden Gessel, Ridgeline; 3. Jace Lang, Snow Canyon; 4. Jordan Hammond, Stansbury; 5. Jace Mcbride, Mountain Crest; 6. Owen Munk, Ridgeline
  • 152 — 1. Joshua Armstrong, Hurricane; 2. Dillon Dick, Uintah; 3. Jordan Wakefield, Mountain Crest; 4. Jack Smart, Pine View; 5. Cale Hatch, Uintah; 6. River Smith, Bear River
  • 160 — 1. Cael Wilcox, Bear River; 2. Keagan Boyce, Desert Hills; 3. Matthew Martinez, Crimson Cliffs High; 4. Brock Guthrie, Mountain Crest; 5. Dustin Rhoades, Uintah; 6. Gabe Dwaileebe, Bear River
  • 170 — 1. Austin Richens, Uintah; 2. Cael Smith, Mountain Crest; 3. Kaden Kirk, Ridgeline; 4. Landon Cabral, Bear River; 5. Rockwell Jones, Snow Canyon; 6. Braydon Allie, Stansbury
  • 182 — 1. William Price, Uintah; 2. Kaeson Burn, Bear River; 3. Eldon Milton, Crimson Cliffs High; 4. Walker Hutchinson, Mountain Crest; 5. Ptallan Takis, Ridgeline; 6. Braxten Shobe, Ogden
  • 195 — 1. Ronan Melani, Ridgeline; 2. Carson Hansen, Snow Canyon; 3. Hunter Hammer, Mountain Crest; 4. Xander Howard, Stansbury; 5. Jett Swain, Uintah; 6. Vincent Threlfall, Snow Canyon
  • 220 — 1. Dawson Bundy, Desert Hills; 2. Payton Murray, Cedar City; 3. Gage Howard, Uintah; 4. Braxton Christensen, Bear River; 5. Ethan Vorwaller, Stansbury; 6. Breccan Fisher, Snow Canyon
  • 285 — 1. Jason Ponausuia, Crimson Cliffs High; 2. Garrett Herzog, Green Canyon; 3. Daimiem Boehme, Ridgeline; 4. Payton Calico, Pine View; 5. Aiden Crawford, Dixie; 6. Chandler Yeck, Tooele