In the 1920s, the middle of the New York Yankees’ batting order featured the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earle Coombs, Mark Koenig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri.
In Utah high school wrestling, Wasatch has its own version of Murderer’s Row that make up the 120- through 145-pound weight classes. Add in another stud grappler a few weights later in Porter Chamberlain (170 pounds), and the Wasps had an unbeatable slew of wrestlers that the rest of the 5A field couldn’t deal with.
Wasatch scored 287.5 points to Box Elder’s 209, leaving no doubt of who was the top team in 5A. Viewmont was next with 165.5, while Skyridge (153.5 points) edged Utah County counterpart Maple Mountain by just a half point for fourth place.
Zak Kohler (145) serves as sort of a clean-up hitter for Wasatch and the Wasp star claimed his fourth state title by defeating Viewmont’s Lorrince Essig 13-8 in what was sometimes a highly contentious match. At one point, both wrestlers went into the scoring table, but as far as the scoring went, Kohler was in control from start to finish.
“I got to put on a show, that’s what I’ve always done, or have always tried to do. I had to go out like I wanted to,” said Kohler.
Kohler was reflective on his fourth state title and what the team title means in his senior campaign.
“My freshman year was probably the most special as I had to go through two state champions to get there. But they’re all pretty special,” Kohler added. “I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
Stockton O’Brien as a junior is looking to do what Kohler has done and got one step closer by winning his third state title. O’Brien did in dominating fashion defeating Farmington’s Austin Gillette by technical fall, 18-3.
“It feels awesome, it’s kind of hard to describe,” said O’Brien. “The most amazing part (of wrestling in the Wasatch program) is that community up there. They’re behind you no matter what.”
Wasatch won its first state title in a bit of bittersweet fashion as Mitchell Slack (120) defeated his teammate Deklan Kelly 1-0 in a match that played out much like their divisional final where Slack won by an identical score.
River Wardle (126) and Sammy Heywood (132) won their second individual titles, both coming at the expense of Skyridge wrestlers.
Wardle won by major decision over Colby Eastmond 13-0, while Heywood secured a first round against Hadley Cowan.
Wardle has now won titles in both 5A and 6A as he prepped at Herriman last season.
“It feels really good, I think that in my opinion 5A is a lot tougher. I worked for it, I deserve it and I’m glad our team was able to take the team title,” said Wardle.
Chamberlain won Wasatch’s sixth individual title with a dominating 10-2 major decision over Maple Mountain’s Zack Johnson.
The pair of wrestlers were evenly matched on their feet, but when the action went to the mat Chamberlain was able to dominate with two 3-point near falls to bring victory home.
“I knew it was going to be tight on our feet,” said Chamberlain. “Being on top is what saved me lots of times this season.”
Wasatch did suffer a defeat at 160 pounds when Brock Lloyd lost to Isaac Wilcox, a three-time state champion from Olympus and Utah’s highest ranked wrestler nationally.
Though Skyridge and Maple Mountain went 0-for-3 in their championship finals Utah County schools did claim two individual titles.
Timpanogos’s Holland Knudsen has placed second in state the previous two years, but achieved the ultimate prize by claiming the 152-pound title this season when he defeated Viewmont’s Jeremy Evans by major decision, 14-4. What was remarkable about Knudsen’s accomplishment is that Evans, a returning state finalist himself, had defeated the Timberwolf grappler twice this season including a victory in the Divisional B final. Knudsen’s efforts didn’t go unrecognized by the 5A coaches who voted him the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
“That was really hard,” said Knudsen. “But it was worth it, every second of it.”
Knudsen’s toughest match came in the semifinals as he survived a 6-5 thriller against West’s Jack Lang.
Then to cap the evening of wrestling, Provo’s Jimmy Tomasi avenged one of his two losses on the season as he defeated Box Elder’s Ryan Gunn, 3-2.
Both wrestlers traded escape points, but Tomasi’s high-crotch to a double leg takedown and lift awed the crowd and delivered the necessary points. Gunn got an escape to make it 3-2, but it was too little, too late and Tomasi became Provo’s first state champion since 2006.
“It was a great choice (to wrestle),” said Tomasi. “I started as a freshman and didn’t even make it to state, but I decided to stick with it.”
Tomasi hinted that the winning takedown might come in the third round when he penetrated Gunn’s defenses late in the second round, but the clock ran out before he could finish the maneuver.
“I knew the shot was there, and I went back to it,” Tomasi added.
Skyridge’s Joshua Millward (113) nearly became the school’s first-ever state champion, but the Falcon grappler was edged by West’s Drew Lang, 5-4.
Besides Johnson, Maple Mountain had two other finalists in Brock Morris (106) and Parker Gasser (182). Both lost to Box Elder wrestlers in Bridger Ricks and Lucas Cochran, respectively.
In other notes, Maple Mountain was recognized as 5A academic state champion with a 3.76 GPA, and Wasatch head coach Wade Discher was recognized as the 5A Coach of the Year.