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A closer at 2021 high school wrestling championships

Pleasant Grove (6A), Payson (5A), Uintah (4A), Juab (3A), Beaver (2A) and Panguitch (1A) won titles in the boys classifications, while Westlake (6A), Mountain Crest (4A) and Maple Mountain (combined) were crowned girls champs

Pleasant Grove’s Alex Emmer celebrates after defeating Koda DeAtley, also of Pleasant Grove, in the 138-pound finals match at the 6A wrestling state championship at Corner Canyon High School in Draper on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.
Pleasant Grove’s Alex Emmer celebrates after defeating Koda DeAtley, also of Pleasant Grove, in the 138-pound finals match at the 6A wrestling state championship at Corner Canyon High School in Draper on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Two weeks of high school state wrestling championships came to a close last week, with nine state championships handed out between boys and girls wrestling.

This was the first season girls wrestling had its own state tournaments, with 6A and 4A crowning a team champion and the rest of the state competing together in a combined tournament.

The six boys state champs were: Pleasant Grove (6A), Payson (5A), Uintah (4A), Juab (3A), Beaver (2A) and Panguitch (1A).

The girls champs were Westlake (6A), Mountain Crest (4A) and Maple Mountain (combined).

Here’s a closer look for all nine championships.

6A boys

Pleasant Grove continued its dominance in 6A wrestling by winning its 10th title in the past 11 years.

Alex Emmer (138), Ted Johnson (182) and Wyatt Dawe (285) won individual state titles for the Vikings, who had 12 total state placers.

“It’s pretty amazing to be part of history like this,” said Emmer.

The featured match of the night came at 132 pounds, with West’s Drew Lang beating Westlake’s Jacob Finlinson, 4-1, to deny him a fourth individual state title. It was a rematch of last year’s state championship.

Layton’s Quade Smith (120), Corner Canyon’s Cameron Moss (170) and Herriman’s Talmage Carman (195) were repeat state champs.

5A boys

Payson’s depth was too much for the rest of the classification as it won its first 5A state championship in its second year in the classification. It recently won 3A titles in 2014 and 2015 and then a 4A title in 2019.

Payson’s depth throughout the one-day tournament led to 15 state placers and one individual state champ as the Lions racked up 265 points, easily finishing ahead of second-place Box Elder’s 205.5 points.

Payson’s lone champion was Aaron Garcia at 106 pounds.

“It was a real team effort. It wasn’t five studs that just punched all of our points for us. Our JV guys, we had kids that didn’t place still score points for us,” said Payson coach Jeb Clark.

Box Elder may have finished second as a team, but it shined under the dim lights of the finals by winning all five of its championship matches — Jackson Ricks (113), Bridger Ricks (120), Caleb Marx (170), Lucas Cochran (195) and Kellen Collier (285).

Cochran finished his career as a three-time state champ, with Bridger Ricks earning his third with a chance at No. 4 next year.

4A boys

Uintah snapped a 22-year state title drought by pulling away from Mountain Crest to claim the 4A state championship.

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

Individual state champs for Uintah were Clayson Mele (120), Brady Merkley (132), Josh Holmes (138), Austin Richens (170) and William Price (182).

Repeat state champs were Bear River’s Trenton Ward (106), Merkley and Hurricane’s Josh Armstrong (152).

3A boys

Juab continued its dominance in 3A wrestling this year by winning its fifth straight state championship comfortably ahead of Morgan and Emery.

Juab’s five individual champs were Rowdey Peterson (106), Channing Warner (138), Chase Ingram (145), Will Harmon (170) and Shan Jackson (285)

“I’ve worked all year for this, and it just came together,” said Peterson. “We just keep going in every day and grinding, and it paid off.”

Warner, Ingram, Harmon and Jackson were repeat state champs along with Richfield’s Dayson Torgerson (113), Morgan’s Waylen Pentz (132) and Emery’s Hayes Dalton (182).

2A boys

Beaver narrowly edged Millard by 12.5 points to claim its first wrestling state championship in school history.

“This was a complete team effort,” coach Robbie Bradshaw said. “Every point mattered, every pin mattered. Every kid is important, and we couldn’t have done it without every single one of them.”

Bradshaw has been head coach for 10 years and he said it’s been a slow evolution to get the program to where it is today.

Beaver’s state champs were Russell Evans (126) and Cort Raddon (170).

The three repeat state champs all hailed from Altamont: Riggin Boger (160), Cash Robb (220) and MacIntyre Thacker (285).

1A boys

Panguitch took care of business against rival Piute to claim its second straight 1A championship.

“We knew we had a battle with Piute,” said Panguitch coach Collin Marshall. “They’ve worked really hard to put a great team together. I was really impressed with how our team came together. It was a real team effort for us … I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Panguitch beat Piute by 47 points.

Panguitch finished with five individual champs: Owen Crofts (106), Hunter Dickinson (113), Bryson Henrie (120), Porter Schoppe (132) and Wade Christensen (220).

Repeat state champs were Piute’s Mckray Gayler (138), Milford’s Quaid Thompson (145), Piute’s Jax Coburn (152), Milford’s Blake Barnes (170) and Piute’s Porter Trapp (195).

6A girls

In the inaugural 6A girls state tournament, host Westlake pulled away from Copper Hills to take the title with 288 points, 55 points ahead of the Grizzlies.

“To take those girls who have no wrestling experience and build them up the way that we have feels really good,” said Westlake coach Ben Szabo. “The girls that won us this tournament weren’t the state titles, it was the girls taking third and the girls taking fifth.”

Westlake’s individual champs were Jamie Barton (108), Celeste Detoles (120), Elizabeth Shunn (140) and Emmy Finlinson (150).

Shunn described how far Westlake had come as a program and how fulfilling it was to win the state championship. “A couple years ago I was the only girl on the team here, in the club,” Shunn said. “Having this big of a team and being able to win as a team, it’s really cool.”

4A girls

Mountain Crest dominated the first 4A girls wrestling tournament, racking up 427 team points, with Bear River well behind in second with 171 points.

Mountain Crest finished with six individual champs, Jalise Wakley (124), Ella Dekorver (132), Hanna Evans (140), Brynlie Hansen (150), Rosa Campos (170) and Sheccid Alvarado (190).

“I’m so proud of them knowing that they are paving the way for all these women to wrestle in the future,” said coach Janae Liljenquist, who said the program started with 25 wrestlers and just kept growing throughout the season.

Combined girls title

Maple Mountain’s girls won the combined state tournament featuring teams from 5A, 3A, 2A and 1A.

Maple Mountain finished first with 192.5 points, followed by ALA with 144 and Rich with 108.

Individual champs for Maple Mountain were Abigail Archibald (150), Ashley Camacho (190) and Morgan Honsvick (245).

“It’s been kind of frustrating the past couple years that I’ve wrestled in the girls’ state championships without it being recorded (as a UHSAA sanctioned sport),” Archibald said. “So I think it’s pretty neat that this is the first year that it’s actually going to be recorded, and I get to be a part of it.”

ALA’s Sage Mortimer, one of the top girl wrestlers in the country, finished her high school career with a girls state title at 115 pounds.