The Utah High School Activities Association has sanctioned girls wrestling for the 2020-21 school year but if fans wanted to know what these competitions might look like, Westlake hosted Cyprus in an all-girls dual meet Thursday night.
The girls got a true dual meet experience under the spotlight with a decent sized crowd to cheer them on. It was also a glimpse on who might be the favorites to win the official state competition next season as Westlake and Cyprus have two of the better programs in both quality and numbers.
There were 13 matches (instead of the usual 14 in a traditional high school competition) and Cyprus posted a 42-35 victory winning seven matches.
Winning Westlake wrestlers included Jamie Barton, Quincy Peterson, Taylor Martin, Lizzie Shun, Emmy Finlinson and Aaliyah Fisher.
Fisher’s win by pin pulled Westlake within a point at 36-35 but Tori Poulsen won the final bout for Cyprus by fall to give the Pirates the clinching victory.
Though her team lost, Fisher had a lot of fun as her spectacular throw led to the eventual pin.
“It was very exciting,” the senior about wrestling under the lights.
Fisher also reflected the difference between tournaments and the dual meet competition.
“In a tournament you have to save your energy, but in a dual since there’s one match you can go all out.”
Westlake has had as many as 35 girls practicing and competing in their club program, more athletes than most high schools have total (boys plus girls). What is unique about Westlake is that six of their female wrestlers have brothers that compete in the program.
Freshman Emmy Finlinson, who won her match Thursday with a dominant first-round pin, is mentored by her brother Jacob, a junior and a returning two-time state champion.
Another brother-sister combo is Lizzie and Ethan Shunn. Lizzie Shun and Jacob Finlinson will both represent Westlake in the Dollamur All-Star Dual on Tuesday. Add in Anthony Stockwell and Westlake will have a total of three wrestlers compete in this prestigious event.
The other brother-sister duos include Paxton and McKell Schramm, Jack and Megan Allred, Tucker and Blythe Butler, and Cameron and Quincy Peterson.
The family ties don’t stop there as Emily Finlinson, the mother of Emmy and Jacob, serves as the girl’s coach for the program under the direction of Westlake head coach Cody Burdett.
Emily Finlinson grew up wrestling but stopped wrestling just prior to high school. She actually married Jason Finlinson, a two-time state placer at West High School, who was a teammate of Mali Marticorena (Evans), Utah’s first-ever female prep wrestler.
“It’s been 30 years since I’ve wrestled, so it’s exciting to be part of something that has taken so long to happen but has finally caught fire,” stated Emily Finlinson in regards to the journey to get girls wrestling sanctioned by the UHSAA. “These 30 plus girls are a wild and passionate bunch of athletes.”
Burdett has a been a strong advocate of girls wrestling and is thrilled about the possibilities.
“I’m just excited that girls will get a chance to physically battle under the lights just like this.”
It also seemed apropos that former West High School coach Dan Potts, who was an assistant coach at the time when Marticorena made history, officiated the dual.
Utah County teams were spewn across the state over the weekend for tournament competitions.
Payson scored another impressive tournament title at the Richardson Memorial hosted by Box Elder where Skyridge finished ninth in the 20-team field. The Lions easily took home the gold trophy with 234 points as the host school was a distant second with 182.5.
Payson actually had two weights where they put two grapplers in the championship finals against each other.
Cole Jensen and Cam Ford battled for the 120-pound title where Jensen won by technical fall. And at 126 pounds, Layne Shepherd won a close one over teammate Wyatt Hone, 2-0. Tucker Naccarato won the 170-pound title and posted four wins by pin in the tournament while Deegan Palmer (132 pounds) was also a silver medalist for the Lions.
Pleasant Grove, Maple Mountain and Lone Peak went east to Vernal for the Tournament of Champions, which boasted a 32-team field with elite teams from Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.
Pleasant Grove placed third as Uintah was first, followed by Juab.
Jake Richardson (170) picked up a gold medal as Oakley Ridge (152) and Wyatt Dawe (285) placed second for the Vikings. Richardson defeated Maple Mountain’s Andrew Jensen 3-1 in the championship match.
The Golden Eagles did have one wrestler climb to the top of the podium as Brock Morris (113) picked up an exciting 6-4 win in sudden victory over top seeded Dominic Martinez from Green River, Wyoming. Maple Mountain finished ninth as a team while Lone Peak was 32nd.
Mountain View had a great weekend of wrestling taking home the title at the Hunter Duels. The Bruins went 8-0 as Gable Stoddard (113) and Christopher Esparza (220) won all of their bouts. Mountain View posted an impressive 81-0 shutout over Cottonwood and wins over county rivals Timpanogos (45-21) and Provo (48-24). Mountain View improved to 21-1 in dual meets on the season.
Meanwhile, Timpanogos went 6-2 and defeated Provo 54-26. Grant Knudsen (132) and Elijah Kratzer (195) had unblemished marks for the Timberwolves. Provo, led by an undefeated performance by Jimmy Tomasi (285), went 4-4 as a team.
Westlake and Spanish Fork placed second and third respectively at the Best of the West tournament won by Stansbury and hosted by Tooele. Orem finished 18th in the 22-team field.
Westlake got gold medal performances from Jacob Finlinson (126), Trent Taylor (145) and Anthony Stockwell (285) while Ashden Green (152) took home the silver. Tate Sorensen (113) and Clay Orton (132) placed second for Spanish Fork.
Timpview placed ninth out of 18 teams at the Pine View Invitational in St. George but crowned two champions with Chase Biggs (170) and Cael Richardson (220) and one runner-up wrestler in Conner Morris (182).
In dual meet action during the week, Pleasant Grove defeated Westlake 35-27, Mountain View topped Alta 52-11, Wasatch whipped Provo 50-24 while the Bulldogs outgunned Gunnison 42-40. Skyridge clipped Corner Canyon 42-28, Maple Mountain slugged Springville 51-29 and downed Mountain Ridge 43-28, while Mountain Ridge mauled Orem 62-6.
It should be noted that at the Doc Buchanan tournament in California held two weekends previous, Pleasant Grove’s Jake Richardson (170) placed fourth while Wasatch’s Stockton O’Brien (145) and River Wardle (132) finished sixth and seventh respectively. This tournament featured brackets of nearly 100 wrestlers and some of the best teams and wrestlers from all across the country.