OREM — Payson High School is heading to 5A next season, but it will leave 4A as the state wrestling champions.
The Lions had too much depth and outpaced Uintah by scoring 238.5 while the Utes scored 225, to win the 4A state championship.
Bear River (152), Canyon View (143) and Mountain Crest (118.5) rounded out the top five. As far as other Utah County teams, Salem Hills finished sixth with 99 points, Mountain View was 10th with 79.5, Spanish Fork 11th with 73, Orem 14th with with 45 and Lehi 23rd with four points in the 27-team 4A field.
“I think that semifinal round (was the difference),” said Clark. “We had some guys come up big. They were clutch right there.”
“It (4A) was good competition. Uintah has been really tough for us all year long. They beat us in a couple of tournaments, so it felt good to get it done,” added Clark.
Payson did have a bit of a rough championship round, going 1-5 as Tyson Carter (170) was the lone Lion state champion, using a late escape to defeat Canyon View’s Braydon Cavalieri, 7-6.
“Well, I knew he was strong. When he got the takedown, I had to get out,” said Carter.
“I worked for a year now since last state tournament (where Carter fell short of taking state), I worked every day. I had dreams about it, it feels so good (to take state).”
Carter said being a part of the Payson program is a big part of his success.
“We’ve been wrestling in that wrestling room since we were 5. We have a brotherhood like no one in the state. We don’t wrestle for ourselves, but we wrestle for the team,” added Carter.
Junior Cole Jensen (113), a returning state champion, lost in his bid to repeat falling to Tooele’s Joseph Mecham, 9-6. Jensen’s teammates that directly followed also tasted defeat, as Keegan Palmer (120) lost to Bear River’s Scott Robertson by technical fall and Wyatt Hone (126) was edged by Mountain Crest freshman Gabe Sanders, 4-1.
Tucker Naccarato (160) gave it all that he had but was defeated by Salem Hill’s Chyler Zeeman, 5-4. Then at 220 pounds McCoy Cook was beat by Nathan Ellis of Cedar City, 6-2.
Joining Zeeman as a champion for Salem Hills was Merrell Morley (182), who controlled the action against Canyon View’s Gavin Carter to win by major decision, 13-5. Ryan Larsen gave the Skyhawks valuable points over the weekend, though he was topped by Uintah’s Bridger Bennion, 3-0, in his championship finals bout at 145 pounds.
Orem’s Cooper Legas (195) completed a perfect season and won his second state title by beating Spanish Fork’s Ben Boyack, 10-4. The Tiger ended his senior campaign with 32 wins without a defeat.
Legas actually gave up the first takedown which seemed to jolt him into action.
“He caught me off guard (with the takedown). But I started off losing last year so I wasn’t too bothered by it,” said Legas who outscored Boyack 10-2 the rest of the way.
Legas actually had to defeat his first cousin Elijah Stafford of Mountain View in the semifinals, but did so with a second period pin. Stafford finished in sixth place as did his twin brother, Radi. Both Staffords are just sophomores and found time to compete in wrestling while still being a part of the Bruin basketball program.
In the final match of the 4A tournament, David Herring won 3-1 in overtime by reversing Spanish Fork’s Sam Dawe. Both traded escape points in regulation but when things went to overtime Herring got the critical ride out, and then with less than five seconds left in the second up/down session in the tiebreaker, he reversed the Don to become the 285-pound 4A state champion.
“It feels great, he’s beaten me three times this year. I just had to believe, said Herring. “I think keeping him down was the biggest part (that led to victory).”
Going into the final round, American Leadership Academy (ALA) found itself in sixth place, but thanks to a perfect 3-for-3 performance in the final round, the Eagles vaulted both South Sevier and Morgan to finish fourth in the 3A tournament.
Juab took home the 3A title for the third year in a row scoring 217 points. Delta was a distant second with 187.5 points. Emery was third with 162.5 points while ALA (136), Morgan (133) and South Sevier (131.5) rounded out the top six. Maeser Prep finished 15th in the 17-team field with eight points.
ALA crowned three individual titles with Lukus Carrillo (106), Rhett Miner (126), and Quenton Mortimer (132).
Carriillo, a freshman, made a statement that he’s a rising superstar with a dominant 7-0 victory over Morgan’s William Korth.
Carrillo had high praises for Korth, who he’s wrestled a lot over the years.
“He’s a great kid. I love wrestling him. He’s really tough,” Carrillo said of Korth. The ALA grappler said, “being patient and taking what he gave him,” were the keys to victory.
Rhett Miner came out on fire in his finals bout against Juab’s Conner Ingram.
Miner took the Wasp right to his back for a 5-0 lead and then secured the fall toward the end of the first round against the returning state champ. For his efforts Miner was named as the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
Mortimer won his second straight state title with a solid 5-1 victory over Summit Academy’s William Haight in a first-ever state title bout between two wrestlers from charter schools.
Justyn Mitchell (195) placed third for the Eagles. Sage Mortimer’s bid to become the second female to place twice at the state tournament will have to wait another season as the sophomore was pinned in the third round by Morgan’s Waylen Pentz (106) just one match away from the top six.