A pair of Maple Mountain wrestlers took to the mats at the 18th Annual All-Star dual and both dominated.
Brandyn VanTassell (182 pounds) is a senior leader for the Golden Eagles. VanTassell has placed three times in state, pocketing a state title last year. This year, VanTassell made All-American status at the Reno Tournament of Champions and showed at the All-Star Dual he means business.
The Golden Eagle grappler made quick work of Desert Hills’ Byron Anderson with a second-round pin.
“I came here to make a statement,” said VanTassell. “I needed more than a win, I wanted to dominate. That was my mindset.”
VanTassell pointed to family as being a big motivator for his success. His father Bryan was a three-time state champion and four-time state finalist for Uintah in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. VanTassell also has extended family and cousins that were excellent wrestlers.
“They set the standard”, added VanTassell. “I’m just trying to live up to them and carry on the legacy the family already built.”
VanTassell has definite goals this season that goes beyond repeating as a state champion.
“I want to be national champion and win senior nationals.”
College grappling will be put on hold as VanTassell plans on doing a LDS mission after graduation.
VanTassell’s teammate Hailey Cox (132) participated in the first female vs. female wrestlers at the All-Star Dual.
Cox took on Stansbury’s Maite Figueroa and dominated the Stallion wrestler winning with a first period fall.
Like VanTassell, Cox comes from a family of wrestlers. Her older brother Tanner climbed to the top of the podium three times in 4A wrestling and was a multiple-time participant in this event.
“I’ve always looked up to Tanner and it was super cool to have this experience like he did. I respect him so much,” Cox said.
Cox has had plenty of success on the girl’s level winning a national title and the Pan-American games in Brazil in 2014. However, Cox has set her sights on a couple of goals.
“In the boy’s season I would really like to qualify for state, and in the girls I would like to be a national champ again,” she stated.
Utah County had three female participants at the All-Star dual.
Springville’s Marlynne Deede pocketed a dominant 9-3 decision over Jazmin Herrera of Copper Hills, while ALA’s Sage Mortimer lost by major decision to Bonneville’s Kierstien Bush.
However, Sage’s older brother Quenton (126) cruised past Fremont’s Brayden Clark, winning by a 16-1 technical fall.
It was a good night for Wasatch, the top-ranked 5A squad.
DJ Cohen (195) was the first Wasp wrestler to take to the mats and he claimed a third period pin over Syracuse’s Jayden Burton. Cohen, a junior, hopes to repeat as a state champ this season.
Cohen’s teammates Stockton O’Brien (132) and Zak Kohler (138) obtained dominating wins.
O’Brien was up against Layton’s Tyson Humpherys. Both are sophomore superstars, taking state last year in 4A and 5A, respectively. The match was tied 1-1 midway through the final period when O’Brien secured a slick takedown for two points and then patiently worked an arm bar pinning combination to secure the fall in the final seconds.
Zak Kohler (138) was also victorious for the Wasps. The match was close for a nearly two rounds before Kohler surged to a final major-decision victory of 11-2 over Stansbury’s Anthony Herrera. Kohler is a junior seeking his third state crown.
Sammy Heywood was the lone Wasp wrestler that was defeated, as he was downed by Layton two-time state champion Terrell Barraclough, 7-2.
Pleasant Grove had four wrestlers in the event, two on the 6A team and two on the wildcard team.
Keegan Wilkinson (285), wrestling for the wildcard team, secured a solid 5-1 victory over North Summit’s Eddie Rodriguez. The Viking contingent continued to help the wildcard team’s cause as Cole Zorn (132) defeated North Sevier’s Gage Mason, 6-2.
In regards to representing 6A, things were a little rougher for Pleasant Grove. Bear River’s Kaygen Canfield defeated Harrison Sperry in a bout at 152 pounds, while Maika Tauteoli (220) was decisioned by Morgan’s Chase Trussell, 9-4.
Trailing 6-2, American Fork’s Josh Bartholomew made a great comeback with a takedown and two-point near fall to tie up his match against Union’s Jate Frost. In the sudden victory, Bartholomew got a quick takedown to come away with a hard-fought and exciting 8-6 victory for the 6A team.
Payson’s Wyatt Monroe (182) had a successful evening with a third-round pin over Bowen Shields of Delta, while Gabe Terry (132) of Mountain View also won by pin over Juab’s Gentry Warner.
This year was probably the hardest to really ascertain the team champion, as there were a few match-ups that were intra-classification, or wrestlers going against each other from different weight classes.
4A scored 44 points to outpace 5A which totaled 38. The 3A team was next with 32 while the combined 1A/2A team scored 25. 6A was fifth with 22, slipping past the wildcard team which pointed 21.
Complete results can be found at www.trackwrestling.com.