It was an eventful year for wrestling in Utah County. Let’s take a look at the top 10 stories for 2019.
10. Provo High School hosted the 10th Annual Wrestling Against Cancer Duals
The event raised money for seven year-old Abel Hervias who is battling a rare form of bone cancer. It was incredible to see the wrestling community rally around Abel and his family. In regards to the wrestling itself, it was the largest Wrestling Against Cancer Duals event as 11 teams took part in 12 duals. Mountain View won all three of its duals while Westlake went 2-0. Father and son coaches did battle as Lyle Mangum, the head coach of Skyridge defeated Salem Hills coached by his son Blake. Beyond that, the event featured the first all-girls dual between Westlake and female wrestlers from other competing schools. The Thunder prevailed in this match 36-24.
9. The 2018-19 season was the last season for Maple Mountain head coach Justin Judkins
He was the only head coach in the school’s history and he led the Golden Eagles to back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013. In Judkins’ 11 seasons as the head coach at Maple Mountain, his teams never finished out of the top five.
8. American Leadership Academy (ALA) cracked the top five in 3A
The Eagles soared in 2018-19 with three individual state champions as Lukus Carrillo, Rhett Miner and Spencer Mortimer claimed the gold. ALA also scored a noteworthy victory over traditional powerhouse Delta at the 3A Duals.
7. Utah Valley’s Taylor LaMont definitely had a noteworthy and somewhat frustrating wrestling season
LaMont missed the 2018-19 college season because of a knee injury but recently was able to qualify for the Olympic Trials that will be held in Pittsburgh in April by finishing third at the U.S. Senior Nationals. LaMont had originally planned to take an Olympic redshirt but decided to compete for the Wolverines for the 2019-20 campaign while also still preparing to make the United States Olympic team in Greco-Roman.
6. Though Windsor, Colorado, won the 2019 Rockwell Rumble, local teams and wrestlers still made a significant impact in the state’s largest invitational tournament
Wasatch placed third while Payson was eighth in the 76-team field. Wasatch’s Stockton O’Brien, Zak Kohler and Porter Chamberlain all won individual titles.
5. Though their teams didn’t nail down individual titles, it was a noteworthy season for many county wrestlers individually
Timpanogos’ Holland Knudsen took down the 152-pound 5A title and was recognized as one of the meet’s most outstanding wrestlers. Provo’s Jimmy Tomasi won the 5A 285-pound state title becoming the first state champion since 2006 for the Bulldog program. In 4A, Orem’s Cooper Legas nailed down his second state title and finished the season undefeated while Mountain View’s David Herring beat his rival Sam Dawe of Spanish Fork in an epic battle for the first time in four tries to win the 4A state title at 285 pounds.
4. The 5A team won the 2019 Dollamur All-Star Dual hosted at the Utah Valley UCCU Event Center
Proceeds raised for the event once again went to the Utah Valley wrestling program. All total, 27 wrestlers from Utah County schools and Wasatch participated in the event.
3. A big year for UVU at the NCAA championships
Utah Valley qualified a school record six grapplers to the NCAA championships and finished 31st overall out of 70 programs that qualified wrestlers. Matt Findlay and Demetrius Romero missed out being All-Americans by just one match. And speaking of Findlay, he was honored with the Elite 90 award for academic and competitive excellence. Findlay posted a 3.94 grade point average while majoring in Biology with a minor in Russian. And led by former Wasatch High School wrestling legend Cael Sanderson, Penn State won its fourth consecutive NCAA championship and eighth in nine seasons. Cody Sanderson, who was the inaugural head coach for Utah Valley, serves as an assistant coach for his younger brother.
2. Pleasant Grove, Wasatch and Payson take the 6A, 5A and 4A state titles, respectively
Pleasant Grove and Payson dominated with their depth. The Vikings crowned two individual champions with Cole Zorn and Maika Tauteoli. It was Tauteoli’s second state title and he would also be recognized as Utah Valley Wrestler of the Year. Tyson Carter took home the gold for Payson. Wasatch showed off its star power as Mitchell Slack, River Wardle, Sammy Heywood, Stockton O’Brien, Zak Kohler and Porter Chamberlain all won individual titles. For Kohler, it was his fourth state title while O’Brien nailed down his third state title and returns this season. Pleasant Grove won its ninth state title in the decade (seven traditional and one dual meet) while Wasatch won its sixth state title in the decade (four traditional and two dual). Payson won its fourth state title in the decade. With the new realignment Payson and Wasatch will both compete in 5A this season.
1. The Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) announces in November that girls wrestling will be a sanctioned sport for the 2020-21 school year
Details in regards to state and divisional competitions are forthcoming. A record number of female wrestlers are competing statewide this season and the numbers are expected to only get bigger, therefore making girls wrestling a viable sport to sanction in the eyes of the UHSAA.