Though Provo’s Jimmy Tomasi didn’t wrestle for a program that was competing for a divisional and state title, the Bulldog big man made a huge impact on the sport. Tomasi definitely checked off all the boxes to make him fitting to be the 2019-20 Utah Valley Wrestler of the Year.
Tomasi defended his 5A 285-pound state title winning three matches by pin en route to claiming the gold medal. Tomasi (39-1) also avenged his only loss on the year by beating Kellen Collier of Box Elder 3-2 in the ultimate tiebreaker in the semifinals. After surviving this scare, Tomasi went back to work pinning Mountain View’s Ryley Horrocks in the championship final to make a return trip to the top of the podium.
It’s not the only time Tomasi has shown the ability in his career to avenge losses.
Last season, one of his two losses was to Box Elder’s Ryan Gunn. The Bee grappler beat Tomasi in the divisional championship, but a week later the Bulldog turned the tables to beat Gunn 3-2. His late takedown of Gunn will go down in the lore of all-time memorable Utah prep wrestling moments as Tomasi’s high-crotch shot led to an jaw-dropping lift and return to the mat that left the crowd buzzing. A photo capturing Tomasi’s lift is one of the feature photos on the USA Wrestling Utah web page.
As a sophomore, though he barely made it to state placing seventh in the divisional tourney, he was able to turn the tables against wrestlers that beat him earlier in the season to place fifth in state in just his second year of wrestling.
But in the past two seasons, Tomasi didn’t lose often, just three matches against 67 victories, and again, with two of those losses, Tomasi was able to win the rematch.
Tomasi became a 3-time state placer for Provo and just the school’s fifth 2-time state champion and first since Nathaniel Holt did the feat in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. But Provo has had the reputation over the years of producing some top upper weight wrestlers.
In the early 1990’s Chris Miller won a pair of state titles and went on to BYU to win a WAC title. Miller became the program’s head coach from 2006-2015 but actually missed Tomasi entering the program by just two seasons. Miller’s older brother Curtis won a state title as a junior in 1985. Other Provo big men of note are Murray Johnson (state title in 1956), Alan McGraw (second in state in 1989) and Westley Holden (second in state in 2005).
For Provo head coach Mike Olsen, the contribution of Tomasi to the wrestling program can’t be overstated.
“Having a 3-time state placer, 2-time state champion for a program like ours is huge,” stated Olsen. “Most of my wrestlers start wrestling as freshmen, and Jimmy showed them that with hard work and dedication, anyone has a chance to succeed and be great in this sport.”
Olsen also feels though Tomasi’s athleticism is off the charts but he also had to overcome some obstacles including being 20 pounds over the minimum weight to start his junior season. The past three seasons, Tomasi had to miss some action to get down the 285-pound maximum allowed for high school wrestlers showing a great work ethic to do so.
“Jimmy is a rare kind of heavyweight wrestler,” added Olsen. “The weight class is 285 pounds, and Jimmy has had to lose weight to get to be exactly 285 pounds. Jimmy is an athlete. He can run a 5.0 second 40-yard dash, and runs sprints in the wrestling room just as fast as anyone else on the team. I really knew that Jimmy could be something special as a freshman. It was the first time that I saw a big man run that fast.”
But though Tomasi is a great wrestler, his first love is football and he has dominated there. He has been a fixture on Provo’s offensive and defensive lines for the past three years and this season spent a lot of time in the opponent’s backfield registering 11 sacks for the Bulldogs despite being doubled team on about every snap. Tomasi recently signed a letter of intent to play football for the Air Force Academy.
Tomasi definitely feels wrestling helped his football career.
“For me personally, it (going out for wrestling) was one my best decisions ever,” said Tomasi. “I was a freshman football player looking for something to do. It pushed me to be a harder worker and persevere through tough times.”
Beyond that, as Tomasi had to battle to make weight, that process itself was another key to his success both on the mat and the football field.
“It (wrestling) kept me fit. During the (wrestling) off-season, I would go up weight for football then I would come down for wrestling, but it kept me in shape and helped me as an athlete.”
Abe Poduska, who teaches English at Provo High School and was the defensive coordinator for the football team also saw how wrestling helped Tomasi on the gridiron.
“He was once in a career kind of D-Lineman. As a coach, you don’t see kids with his skill set combined with his work ethic. He was a game changer.” said Poduska.
Poduska definitely said wrestling helped Tomasi.
“His footwork, his hips, understanding leverage. You could see wrestling in everything he did, added Poduska. “He was very instinctual in his pass rush, and understanding pressure and how to use leverage to move guys to get by.”
Poduska also praised Tomasi as a student.
“He’s very quiet, very humble and gets his work done.”
Though Tomasi has college football in his sights, he’s not done with his high school athletic career as he plans to throw the shot put and discus for the Bulldog Track and Field program while entertaining thoughts for going out for the 100 meters saying, “it will be fun to give it a try.”