It’s fair to say Cache Valley will be well represented at one of the Beehive State’s most popular high school wrestling events.
Five local grapplers from three different school were selected to compete in the Dollamur High School All-Star Dual, which will take place Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Utah Valley University’s UCCU Center.
Mountain Crest’s Gabe Sanders, Brayden Guthrie and Hunter Schroeder, Ridgeline’s Grace Montierth and Sky View’s Hunter Larsen will showcase their skills in this event, which serves as a fundraiser for UVU’s program. Montierth will be the first-ever local girl to compete at the All-Star Dual.
“I am the first woman wrestler at Ridgeline High School and last year was my first year,” Montierth said. “I really hope that this helps women’s wrestling grow in Cache Valley and to show girls that you can do hard things.”
Montierth is one of 13 girls who will be in action Tuesday. The junior will square off against veteran Kathleen Janis of Layton. Janis, a senior, is a folkstyle All-American and has been competing for several years.
Janis is the seventh-ranked prep girls wrestler in all of Utah, according to the preseason poll released by wrestleutah.com, while Montierth is ranked 15th.
“I am honored to participate in the All-Star Duals, and I’m going to wrestle my best and hope for a win,” said Montierth, who was a state champion as a sophomore.
Larsen, Schroeder, Guthrie and Sanders are four of 84 prep boys who will participate in the 20th installment of the All-Star Dual. Mountain Crest will be represented at the event for the 19th time.
“It means a lot. Good kids wrestle at (this event) so it’s really eye-opening to me because I’m wrestling there,” Schroeder said. “You know, I’ve never planned on it, I never thought I was good enough, but especially coming out my senior year and being able to wrestle at (this event), that’s a cool experience that I’ll be able to remember.”
Schroeder’s opponent is Duchesne’s Ryker Blackburn, who is the top-ranked 195-pounder in the state regardless of classification, according to wrestleutah.com’s Individual Power Poll. Blackburn is a defending 2A state champion at 182 pounds and went 46-5 last season.
Schroeder, who is ranked seventh in the aforementioned power poll, is a two-time state placer. The senior was a consolation state champion a year ago.
Guthrie will take the mat against Juab senior Rylan Watts, who is a returning 3A state runner-up at 182 pounds. Watts went 42-6 last season.
Guthrie, the second-ranked 182-pounder in the Individual Power Poll, was a 4A runner-up in 2018. The senior missed the second half of the 2018-19 campaign with an injury.
“I think it’s a really cool opportunity,” Guthrie said. “I think it should be really fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
Sanders will square off against Wasatch’s Sammy Heywood in a showdown of returning state champions. Heywood is actually a two-time state titleist for Wasatch. The senior went 33-9 last season.
Sanders, who captured a 4A title last season as a freshman, is the third-ranked 138-pounder in the Individual Power Poll, while Heywood is ranked fourth. Additionally, Sanders is ranked 16th in the latest Beehive Top 25 Poll, while Heywood checks in at No. 24 spot.
“It’s fun,” Sanders said. “It’s cool that every team comes out and cheers everyone on for the All-Star Dual, and it’s a good honor. It’s fun to be introduced to a big tournament like that.”
Larsen’s foe at the All-Star Dual is East junior Sau Tafisi, who placed fourth at 220 pounds at the 2019 5A State Championships. Tafisi went 39-9 as a sophomore.
Larsen won his third-place match at last year’s 4A state tournament, and the senior is ranked fourth at 220 pounds in the Individual Power Poll. Meanwhile, Tafisi is ranked eighth.
“It means a lot to have an opportunity like this,” Larsen said. “It is a fun time to go and compete at a high level with people that love the sport like you do. Thankful for all my coaches, family and wrestling brothers.”
Uintah leads the way with four selections on the 4A All-Star team, while Mountain Crest and Bear River have three apiece. Representing the Bears will be Trenton Ward (106 pounds), Maverik Skinner (170) and Jeshua Koch (285).
The All-Star Dual tournament director is former Mountain Crest and Utah Valley wrestler Raider Lofthouse, who was a four-time state champion for the Mustangs.
A complete rundown of all the matchups for the All-Star Dual can be found at wrestleutah.com. The event will feature action simultaneously on three mats.