Pleasant Grove’s Maika Tauteoii (220 pounds) won three state titles as a Viking grappler but this season was perhaps his most frustrating season of his career.
Tauteoii fought a shoulder injury he suffered in the last football game of the gridiron season and had to fight through it throughout the 2018-19 wrestling campaign only getting on the mat 19 times on the season.
“It was frustrating being injured but things paid off at the end,” said Tauteoii. “I really had to work to get in wrestling shape.”
Yes, Tauteoii was victorious 18 times, as his only loss was at the all-star dual against Millard’s Calun Whitaker. The Eagle wrestler was no slouch as he won four 2A state titles and had 51 wins against zero defeats this year.
Besides this lone defeat to Whitaker, Tauteoii manhandled the competition. At the 6A state tournament, none of his matches went the distance as he secured three pins and one technical fall. Two of his pins came in the first round.
That dominance is the reason Tauteoii was named the Daily Herald 2019 All-Valley Wrestler of the Year.
Tauteoii couldn’t single out one individual title being better the other saying “they all felt good, I can’t put one above the other.”
And to the end Tauteoii was there leading Pleasant Grove to its second straight 6A state title doing his thing in crushing fashion.
Tauteoii said that taking state three times as a team was especially gratifying.
“When all the team took state, that was a real cool experience. We pride ourselves in being the hardest working team in the state.”
As for being named as the Daily Herald Valley Wrestler of the Year Tauteoii related, “it feels awesome. I’m thankful for the honor.”
Last year, Tauteoii was arguably as dominating as he went 36-2 on the season and had three pins and a decision on his way to his second title. His first state title as a sophomore came at 195 pounds where he was 38-3. As a freshman, Tauteoii burst onto the scene with a 41-14 overall mark and a third place finish at the big tourney meaning that the Viking grappler became a rarified 4-time state placer with a sparkling 133-20 career record.
It should be noted that being a four-time state placer in the upper weights at the large-school level is indeed a unique accomplishment. Tauteoii will go down in the annals of Utah prep wrestling history as one of the greatest upper weight wrestlers. Tauteoii seemed to always show the ability to perform in clutch situations.
Tauteoii also excelled on the gridiron as he was been an all-state performer for the Vikings. This year Pleasant Grove made a nice run to the 6A semifinals and the Viking senior played a significant role. And he said wrestling was a big part of his success in football.
“Wrestling taught me how to work harder and how to tackle better.”
Tauteoii actually enjoys football more than wrestling and says his immediate plans after high school are to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and then try to land a football scholarship.
Tauteoii also had high praises for his head coach Brock Moore.
“He’s done a lot for me and a lot for all the wrestlers. He’s a big reason for our success.”