HYRUM — A 18-0 deficit certainly didn’t seem to rattle the Mustangs.
Mountain Crest responded by winning six straight matches en route to a 42-28 victory over rival Box Elder in a non-region wrestling dual in front of a nice crowd Thursday night at the ICON Activity Complex. It was the defending 4A champion’s home and season opener.
“It was great,” said junior Hunter Schroeder, who is one of five returning state placers the Mustangs welcomed back. “We’ve all been working for that in the wrestling room and it’s just amazing to come and beat these guys. They’re always good, they have good wrestlers and they work hard, so it’s great to be wrestling against them.”
Schroeder was one of three Mustangs who prevailed against a returning state medalist for the Bees. The junior was nursing a 3-2 lead in a 195-pound match against Jaden Nessen before catching his foe in a scramble and planting him straight to his back.
Schroeder, who will typically compete at 170 pounds, secured the pin with 22 seconds remaining in the first round for six big points for the Mustangs.
“He put me in a position that I love,” Schroeder said. “I love that over and under position because I can work all of my moves off of that position, and so it was just unlucky for him to get in that position. But overall, it turned out great. It was a fun win for me.”
Schroeder’s triumph gave the hosts an insurmountable 39-28 advantage, although Mountain Crest teammate Sam McMurray put the finishing touches on the dual with a 4-1 win over Chase Jeppesen at 220 pounds. Like Schroeder, McMurray is a returning state placer.
It was also a memorable night for Mountain Crest sophomore Tony Lopez, who shined in a showdown of grapplers who earned a spot on the podium at the state championships last season. Lopez had a pretty comfortable 5-0 lead in the third period over Colton Ward at 120 pounds before deftly switching pinning combinations and finishing off Ward at the 5:07 mark.
Mustang teammates Gabe Sanders (126), Hunter Evans (132), Cael Smith (138), Jordan Wakefield (145) and Jace Dart (152) immediately followed suit with successive victories.
Sanders energized the home crowd by sticking returning Box Elder’s Isaac Richards at the 3:15 mark of an entertaining back-and-forth duel. The freshman’s transition to his pinning combination was impressive and very efficient.
“Oh, it was awesome,” said MC head coach Jay Tovey, who is in his first season at the Mustang helm. “We love winning the tough matches and that’s what we stress in our training and in practice. And a lot of the matches that we won against kids that had placed, we had young kids wrestling. We had a freshman get a big pin and that kid he wrestled was tough.”
Tovey was also thoroughly impressed with Wakefield, who missed all of last season after undergoing knee surgery. Nevertheless, Wakefield was able to defeat returning state medalist Brayden Tucker, 8-5. He was especially dominant from the top position as he rode Tucker for more than three minutes.
“That (BE) kid got fourth, I think, and Jordan was just in control the whole time,” said Tovey, who wrestled collegiately at Oregon State.
Dart, a 4A runner-up last season, handily dispatched of Box Elder’s Seth Bott by technical fall, while Evans pulled away from his opponent with six near fall points in the third round. The senior prevailed by major decision, 14-5.
Smith caught his foe in a headlock and was triumphant by fall with five seconds remaining in the opening round. Mountain Crest’s other victory went to 170-pounder Wyatt Larsen, who scored three points in the third round in a hard-fought 5-3 decision.
“I love the team’s effort,” Tovey said. “I had a coach tell me one time that I’m pleased but not satisfied, and that’s how I feel right now. I’m pleased, but we’re not satisfied and we’ve got a lot of work to do. I feel like we’ve been working really hard, but we can always give a little more.”
In one of the most anticipated bouts of the evening, Box Elder 182-pounder Lucas Cochran looked strong in a major decision win over fellow returning state placer Brayden Guthrie.