With COVID-19, the committee that ran the 2021 All-Star Dual was given some lemons, but with some quick thinking, it was able to make lemonade and bring forth a successful event Tuesday at the Telos Colosseum in Orem.
One of the adjustments to be made was to run the event over three sessions to control the amount of crowd to be within COVID-19 protocols. But by doing that, it allowed some opportunity to do some things past all-star duals have not been able to do and that was to give a lot of wrestlers the chance to wrestle multiple matches. And in three weight classes, there was a chance to wrestle down to one ultimate winner.
Pleasant Grove’s Jacob Carson (113 pounds) took full advantage of this opportunity and won three matches, including a shocking upset of Mountain Ridge’s Kysion Garcia, considered by many as the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the state. Carson’s takedown and escape was enough to beat the Sentinel returning 5A state champion, 3-2.
“I feel good, I wrestled really good on my feet, and I stayed in good position,” said Carson.
The Viking wasn’t sure if the match would be a low-scoring affair or one with a lot of points on the scoreboard.
“I thought there might be a (match) with a lot of scrambling, or a match with a good position, with a lot of defending and defending from both of us,” Carson said.
Carson was further tested as he beat Richfield’s returning state champion Dayson Torgersen, 6-5, after beating Beaver’s Hagen Mayer by pin.
The 138-pound class is considered the deepest in the state and the six entrants at the all-star dual had a total of 14 state titles among them including three 3-time state champions. But when the dust settled, Wasatch’s 3-time state champion River Wardle stood out as the best of the best of the best.
Wardle defeated Juab junior and 2-time state champion Channing Warner, 8-6, in his final match after previously defeating 2A 3-time state champion Brian Evans, 8-2. Evans defeated Westlake’s 3-time state champ Jacob Finlinson 3-2 to earn a right to wrestle Wardle. Finlinson then filled in to give Morgan’s Waylen Pentz a match at 132 pounds and the Westlake grappler scored a 3-point near-fall in the last few seconds to win, 3-0.
Wardle was quick to credit his coaches and teammates.
“It feels really good,” Wardle said. “Hard work, my teammates through my coaches, they were the ones that got me here to help me to put in the work to get here.”
Though Carson was okay with a low-scoring or high-scoring match, Wardle, known for his offense, wanted the match with Warner to light up the scoreboard.
“He (Warner) wrestles super loose and methodical and pretty funky, so I decided to stay smart, stay in good position, and do what I usually do, score points and get the score up and stay there.” Wardle said. “I was basically able to do that. I gassed a little bit, and my gas tank needs to get up for sure. He’s a great kid, a good wrestler but it was the bout I expected and I’m glad I got the win.”
In the 120-pound division, which also wrestled down to one winner, American Fork’s Dallan Hunsaker took part but was defeated in his first match against Blake Woolsey, 5-2. Bridger Ricks of Box Elder beat Layton’s Quade Smith 3-2 in the ultimate tiebreaker to win the weight class.
It was still a very good night for Utah County grapplers overall.
Pleasant Grove’s Wyatt Dawe (285) pinned Green Canyon’s Grant Herzog to add to the Viking win total.
Mountain View went 2-for-2 as Radi Stafford (182) and Chris Esparza (285) both won their matches by pin representing the Wildcard Team, which actually scored the most team points with 57, while the 6A squad pointed 39 for second place. The 5A team was third with 35 points, the 3A and 1A/2A team tied for fourth with 21 points while the 4A team finished sixth with 20.
Esparza pinned Beaver’s Kyler Boren while Stafford put Mountain Crest’s Cael Smith’s shoulders to the mat in the second round.
Stafford is a unique athlete, as for the past three years, he played basketball for the Bruins as well as wrestled. He tried out again but was cut while his twin brother Elijah, who also wrestles and is a top contender for a state crown, actually made the hoops team.
“I’m just focusing on wrestling and getting the work done,” Stafford said. “I’ve never been in an event this big, and it was fun.”
While Payson was supposed to have three participants, those three had to withdraw, though Deegan Palmer (132) was replaced by his teammate Ryan Bullough, who substituted in fine style earning a pin over Gunnison’s Tezlin Winn.
Payson’s Layne Shepherd (126) was replaced by Wasatch’s Austin Kelly, who also shined, beating Herriman’s Gage Ogden, 4-3.
Skyridge brought valuable points to the 6A team as Josh Millward (145) and Mahkyi Smith (170) each secured major decision victories. Millward defeated Murray’s Conway Christensen 16-5, while Smith controlled Mountain Crest’s Brock Guthrie, 11-3.
ALA also had two victors with Andrew Fox (106) and Justyn Mitchell (195). Fox downed Farmington’s Jake Waddoups 6-2, while Mitchell won by fall over Mountain Crest’s Walker Hutchison.
Maple Mountain’s Brock Morris (132) picked up a 14-7 win over Corner Canyon’s Brigham Bagley while Westlake’s freshman sensation Breydon Robison (106) pinned returning state champion Easton Evans of Mountain Crest in the second round.
Springville had a great night at the all-star dual winning three bouts.
Hotaia Valeti won a pair of matches in impressive fashion including pinning Westlake’s Lizzie Shunn (140) and Copper Hill’s Alyssa Pace (136). Both Shunn and Pace have dominated their competition in the 2020-21 season, so the Red Devil freshman certainly turned some heads.
In one of the most exciting bouts on the night, Valeti’s teammate Isabelle Clements (124) overcame a 12-2 deficit to pin Merci Jessop of Water Canyon.
ALA won both its boy’s bouts and followed with two more winners in the girl’s division as Rachel Camacho (108) and Olivia Carrillo (145) picked up wins for the Eagles.
Billy Cox coaches both ALA and the Maple Mountain girl’s teams and was extra busy. Ashley Camacho (190) did win by pin for the Golden Eagles as Maple Mountain had three total wrestlers taking part.
Westlake’s Celeste DeToles defeated Copper Hills’ Brooklyn Pace in a hard-fought battle, 4-2.
“She (Pace) is tough, she’s really a strong wrestler,” DeToles said. “By the third round, I knew I wasn’t going to get a pin, so I needed to get an escape (or reversal) and stay on top.”
No team scores were kept in the girl’s division but all results, boys and girls, can be found at www.trackwrestling.com.