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5A wrestling preview: Altogether now: Girls join boys for twice the excitement at the UCCU Center

By Brian E. Preece - Herald Correspondent | Feb 14, 2022
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Springville's Valery Ethington (left) tries to escape during the 2022 Ross Brunson All-Star Duals at the UCCU Center in Orem on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2022. (Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald)
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Payson head coach Jeb Clark (right) celebrates after wrestler Aaron Garcia won his match in the finals of the 106-pound weight class during the 5A state boys wrestling tournament at Wasatch High School in Heber on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. 

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Maple Mountain wrestler Abi Archibald competes during the finals of the 150-pound weight class during the 5A/3A/2A/1A state girls wrestling tournament at Mountain View High School in Orem on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. 

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Mountain View wrestler Radi Stafford (left) celebrates next to Timpview wrestler Conner Morris after they received their medals for competing in the finals of the 182-pound weight class during the 5A state boys wrestling tournament at Wasatch High School in Heber on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. 

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Payson wrestler Aaron Garcia (right) tries to pin Farmington's Jacob Waddoups in the finals of the 106-pound weight class during the 5A state boys wrestling tournament at Wasatch High School in Heber on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. 

Last year, because of COVID-19 concerns, the state wrestling tournaments were confined to high school gyms. That wasn’t the most exciting venue for the inaugural Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) girls state tournaments.

Mountain View head coach Maren Stafford is excited about the opportunity to compete at the Utah Valley UCCU Event Center side by side with the boys 5A tournament.

“I think having the girls get to compete alongside the boys is awesome and a great opportunity for them to be at a large venue like that,” Stafford said.

Springville’s David Valeti, who oversees both the boys and girls programs at Springville and will be very busy both days concurs with Stafford.

“Our girls are really excited to compete on this stage. UVU is a great venue and we are excited,” Valeti said. “The growth in the sport is really fun to watch. Hopefully, wrestling on a big stage and having fun will continue to promote growth.”

The 5A boys and girls wrestling tournaments will run Wednesday and Thursday of this week at the UCCU Event Center, while the 1A-3A girls will compete at the Sevier Event Center in Richfield alongside the 3A boys tourney.

5A Girls Notes

Local teams Maple Mountain, Mountain View and Springville entertain trophy hopes but Uintah will go into the tournament the favorite having qualified 19 wrestlers.

The Utes won the Divisional A tourney handily while Northridge was second and Maple Mountain was third. Springville won the Divisional B tourney. Meanwhile, Mountain View takes in the highest number of qualifiers from county teams with 14 while Maple Mountain and Springville have 12 qualifiers each.

Timpview looks strong to crown two state champions but only has those two wrestlers in the field while Cedar Valley with four girl grapplers will hope to have a top ten finish.

5A Girls Weights to Watch: At 125 pounds, returning state placer Izzy Clements of Springville looks to get to the top of the podium but Mountain View’s Isla Baeza wants gold too.

At 130 pounds, Timpview’s Kaianne Sabagaa goes to the state tournament with a perfect 24-0 record after winning the Divisional B title. Meanwhile, Provo’s returning state placer Katelyn Wolf won the Divisional A title and wants to knock off her opponent from the arch rival school. Wolf could get a challenge from Bonneville’s Hadlie Hood in the semifinals.

In the 235-pound division, Morgan Honsvick of Maple Mountain is the defending 5A champion but placed fifth in the Divisional A tournament. This means she will face returning 6A state champion Northridge’s Karla Padilla Zapeda and her glossy 32-1 record in the quarterfinal round. On the bottom side of the bracket, Jordan’s Arianah Congur won the Divisional B meet and is likely to be in the championship final waiting for either Honsvick or Zapeda, though Uintah’s Maddison Tenney shouldn’t be overlooked.

5A Girls Undefeated Wrestlers: Kaianne Sabagala (Timpview-24-0/130 pounds) Elleni Johnson (Murray-23-0/145 pounds).

5A Girls Returning State Champions: Chanley Green (Uintah-115 pounds), Esther Han (Mountain View-135 pounds), Hotai Valeti (Springville-155 pounds), Taimane Fiatoa (Timpview-170 pounds), Morgan Honsvick (Maple Mountain-235 pounds), Karla Padilla Zepeda (Northridge-235 pounds).

1A-3A Girls Notes

Grantsville and Juab should battle it out for the 1A-3A state title.

Juab is led by Billy Cox who coached Maple Mountain to the 1A-3A/5A state title last year. Juab didn’t have a program last year but has 15 girls competing while Grantsville has 17. American Leadership Academy (ALA) hopes to be in the top five and will take 12 wrestlers into the state meet including returning state champions Rachel Camacho (110) and Olivia Carrillo (140). Camacho carries in a perfect 18-0 record to the state meet.

5A Boys Notes

Uintah has dominated the state all year long but the state tournament is a different creature. For one thing, two wrestlers can score in each weight class and Payson qualified 22 wrestlers while Uintah has 19. That three-wrestler edge gives the Lions a fighting chance.

“The divisional tournament was really the first time all year we had all our team at full strength and we wrestled great,” Payson head coach Jeb Clark said. “If we can just wrestle hard and up to that level again and get the right breaks, we might just have a chance.”

Uintah does have a bit more returning star power with three returning state champions to Payson’s one. They also have a few more returning state finalists as well. Both squads are still on the young side and should dominate this classification for years.

What makes 5A even more intriguing is that it’s the strongest classification in wrestling by far and, with 33 schools, there are a bevy of quality wrestlers from a variety of programs that could prove to be spoilers. Expect some parity when it comes to state champions and finalists.

Wasatch looks strong to finish at least in third place though the Wasps with their tradition always want more. There should be a great battle between several teams to get into the top five including Utah Valley programs Lehi, Mountain View, and Spanish Fork, though Box Elder and Viewmont might have the inside track.

5A Boys Weights to Watch: The 150-pound weight class is very deep and the divisionals did put forth some stunning results.

Divisional A favorite and 2-time state finalist Dillon Dick was upset by Murray’s Isaac Orrock in the semifinals and then by Viewmont’s Tyson Morley in consolation and fell to fifth place. Salem Hills’ Luke DeGraffenreid won the Divisional A tournament and is arguably the best wrestling “athlete” in the state. He is a lighter version of Cooper Legas, a former 2-time state champ for Orem.

Northridge’s Ben Brown placed second in 6A last year. Meanwhile, Payson junior Trevor Frank is very capable and the Divisional B champion. A big quarterfinal match looms between Dick and Frank, and this could be a big chance for Payson to knock off a Uintah star early in the tournament. Orrock likely awaits the winner, while on the top side of the bracket DeGraffenreid and Brown should meet in the semifinals.

The 190-pound weight class has returning state champion Austin Richens of Uintah while Maple Mountain’s Andrew Jensen was a state champion two seasons ago. The two met in the Divisonial A final with Richens winning a close one and will be on opposite sides of the bracket. But the man to beat might just be Lehi’s Will McCleary, the Divisional B champ, who is on the bottom side of the bracket with Jensen. Payson’s Chandler Loveless has a great family pedigree and shouldn’t be overlooked. He is on the top side of the bracket with Richens.

And who knows, the team title could come down to a likely championship finals match at 175 pounds between Uintah’s Will Price, who took state in 4A last year, and Payson’s super sophomore Landen Shurtleff. The Lion grappler, who placed third in state last year as a freshman, has beat Price twice already. But two county wrestlers could stand in Shurtleff’s way in Maple Mountain’s Joshua Biesenger and Springville’s Tevita Valeti.

5A Boys Undefeated Wrestlers: Colton Erickson (Woods Cross-41-0/144 pounds), Cash Henderson (Woods Cross-41-0/215 pounds).

5A Boys Returning/Former State Champions: Aaron Garcia (Payson-113), Bridger Ricks (Box Elder-120/*3-time state champ), Jackson Ricks (Box Elder-132 pound), Brady Merkley (Uintah-144/*2-time state champ), Colton Erickson (Woods Cross-144), Moses Espinoza-Owens (Viewmont-157), Marcus Espinoza Owens (Viewmont-165), William Price (Uintah-175), Austin Richens (Uintah-190), Andrew Jensen (Maple Mountain-190).

3A Boys Notes

American Leadership Academy’s (ALA) Lukus Carrillo (138) is a 3-time finalist looking for his second title. His teammate Andrew Fox is a serious contender at 113 as a divisional champion. The Eagles will hope to crack the top five as a team as Juab and Morgan fight it out for the state title. Juab has won the last five 3A state tourneys.

1A/2A Boys Notes

At the 1A state tournament held at the Sevier Event Center in Richfield Friday and Saturday, Tintic’s Jaden Kriegh won the 215-pound state title while his teammate Garrett Kirgan placed second at 285-pounds. Panguitch won the team title while Altamont placed second. Tintic placed seventh in the 13-team 1A field. The 2A title was won by Millard, while Beaver was the runner-up.

Preece’s predictions

5A girls team predictions: 1. Uintah 2. Northridge 3. Springville 4. Maple Mountain 5. Mountain View 6. Tooele 7. Cedar Valley 8. Stansbury 9. Timpview 10. Hillcrest.

5A girls finalist predictions:

100 pounds: January Langston (Payson) vs. Emery Mortimer (Springville)

105 pounds: Elle Jensen (Maple Mountain) vs. Lindsay Hansen (Tooele)

110 pounds: Taileigh Lujan (Uintah) vs. Jennacee Harrison (Uintah)

115 pounds: Chanley Green (Uintah) vs. AnnaLee Wright (Cedar Valley)

120 pounds: Valery Ethington (Springville) vs. Alexia Woods (Cedar Valley)

125 pounds: Isla Baeza (Mountain View) vs. Izzy Clements (Springville)

130 pounds: Katelyn Wolf (Provo) vs. Kaianne Sabagala (Timpview)

135 pounds: Esther Han (Mountain View) vs. Annie Clanton (Northridge)

140 pounds: Amelia Ledesma (Salem Hills) vs. Zarieh Power (Mountain View)

145 pounds: Elleni Johnson (Murray) vs. Briona Love (Hillcrest)

155 pounds: Abigail Acosta (Stansbury) vs. Hotaia Valeti (Springville)

170 pounds: Fe Speredon (Northridge) vs. Taimane Fiatoa (Timpview)

190 pounds: Nya Seiluli (Maple Mountain) vs. Aurelia Ramos (Maple Mountain)

235 pounds: Karla Padilla Zapeda (Northridge) vs. Arianah Congur (Jordan)

1A-3A girls team predictions: 1. Juab 2. Grantsville 3. Union 4. ALA 5. North Sanpete.

5A boys team predictions: 1. Uintah 2. Payson 3. Wasatch 4. Box Elder 5. Viewmont 6. Mountain View 7. Lehi 8. Spanish Fork 9. Woods Cross 10. Maple Mountain.

5A boys finalist predictions:

106 pounds: Karson Shelley (Spanish Fork) vs. Connor Knudsen (Timpanogos)

113 pounds: Michael Alexander (Uintah) vs. Aaron Garcia (Payson)

120 pounds: Bridger Ricks (Box Elder) vs. Jared Miller (Park City)

126 pounds: Heath Clyde (Wasatch) vs. Ethan Boulton (Payson)

132 pounds: Junior Wetzel (Spanish Fork) vs. Ryder Robinson (Wasatch)

138 pounds: Jaxon Johnson (Uintah) vs. Colton Theobald (Payson)

144 pounds: Brady Merkley (Uintah) vs. Colton Erickson (Woods Cross)

150 pounds: Luke DeGraffenreid (Salem Hills) vs. Trevor Frank (Payson)

157 pounds: Moses Espinoza-Owens (Viewmont) vs. Christian Slack (Wasatch)

165 pounds: Marcus Espinoza-Owens (Viewmont) vs. Dustin Rhoades (Uintah)

175 pounds: Will Price (Uintah) vs. Landen Shurtleff (Payson)

190 pounds: Austin Richens (Uintah) vs. Will McCleary (Lehi)

215 pounds: Stone Combs (Park City) vs. Cash Henderon (Woods Cross)

285 pounds: Gage Howard (Uintah) vs. Isaac Terrell (Lehi)

3A boys team predictions: 1. Juab 2. Morgan 3. Emery 4. Delta 5. South Summit.


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