MILLVILLE — For the first time this season, Mountain Crest’s wrestling team had its entire varsity lineup, and that’s bad news for the opposition.
The Mustangs got ready for Friday’s huge dual at home against four-time defending 3A state champion Juab with another impressive performance as they dispatched of Region 11 rival Ridgeline, 66-9, on Thursday night.
“It felt great,” MC senior Walker Hutchinson said. “Just having the whole team back together does a lot for the team morale and it just helps us hype each other up. It was a good night for us.”
As is typically the case when these two programs square off, a handful of the matches were intense and had fans on both sides cheering fervently. Nevertheless, the Mustangs ultimately showed why they have yet to lose a dual during the 2020-21 campaign as they reigned supreme in 12 of the 14 bouts.
“The rivalry that goes on here, it makes you want to wrestle so much harder,” Hutchinson said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Seven of the matches went into a third round and Mountain Crest was able to prevail in six of them. Four of those Mustangs secured pinning combinations past the five-minute mark in Easton Evans (113 pounds), Cael Smith (170), Hutchinson (182) and Andrew Belles (220).
“Yeah, I love when the kids are always trying to score points,” MC head coach Jay Tovey said. “That’s something we try to really preach to them in practice and I just like that it means something to them. You know, it gets easy to sit on your lead and just win by a few points, but I love it when our kids wrestle hard until the buzzer goes off. And I feel they did a pretty good job of that tonight.”
Conversely, those were the kind of duels the Riverhawks would like to have another shot at.
“(We had a few kids) where we’re in those matches,” RHS head coach Jarrett Morrill said. “I think we’ve just got to a get a little tougher and they’re matches that we can flip, you know, we can get them to go our way (in the future), but we just didn’t get them tonight.”
The Riverhawks did get a pin from heavyweight Daimien Boehme, who is having a very good season. Ridgeline’s other win was notched by Ronan Melani (195), who recorded a go-ahead takedown against Hunter Hammer with 1:25 remaining in the third round and rode the sophomore the rest of the way in his hard-fought 6-4 triumph.
Morrill was also pleased with seniors Ethan Buchanan (152) and Brenden Gessell (145). Gessell was somehow able to work his way out of a tight headlock in the first round by Mountain Crest star Gabe Sanders and went the distance with the Beehive State’s fourth-ranked wrestler regardless of weight class or classification. To his credit, Sanders still won comfortably, 13-0.
Meanwhile, the much-improved Buchanan came up just short against returning 4A state consolation champion Jordan Wakefield, 5-3, in the final duel of the evening.
“He’s one of our great leaders and, yeah, I don’t know if they’ve ever wrestled before ‑‑‑ I don’t think they have ‑‑‑ but Ethan’s one of our very hardest workers,” Morrill said. “He’s got a lot of mental toughness. ... Last year was his first full season. The kid just works his guts out and he’s made a lot of progress because of that.”
Several Mustangs looked sharp, particularly Smith, Hutchinson and Luke Schroeder (120), who pinned opponents who are likewise ranked in the latest wrestleutah.com 4A Poll. Additionally, Mountain Crest’s Elijah Larsen impressed once again by beating a fellow ranked foe by technical fall.
Smith has turned a corner this month as he placed at the ultra prestigious Rockwell Rumble, outpointed Bear River standout Landon Cabral last week and stuck returning 4A state runner-up Kaden Kirk on Thursday. Smith caught Kirk, a very talented grappler, in a headlock twice.
“I think it’s because of our practices,” said Smith, who has arguably established himself as the 4A favorite at 170 pounds. “We’re just kind of stepping it up and we’re working a little bit harder, and just my drilling partners, they’re there picking it up too and so it’s helping me out. And hopefully as a team we’ll all keep improving too.”
“For Cael, I think it’s more mental,” Tovey said. “You know, physically he’s always had the tools and he’s always been pretty technical, but mentally he’s training harder; he works out with guys in the room that are tough and I feel like he’s just hungry. He wants it. It’s been a different Cael this year than from years before.”
In addition to the aforementioned athletes, the Mustangs got pins from Carter Nelson (106), Cooper Sanders (132), Terrell Lee (138) and Brock Guthrie (160) ‑‑‑ Sanders and Guthrie in the first round. All four of those competitors are legitimate state title contenders and Sanders is a defending champion.
OTHER REGION 11 DUALS
Green Canyon improved to 2-2 in region action with a 49-18 victory over visiting Sky View, while Bear River coasted past Logan on the road, 76-6.
The Bobcats gave the Wolves a relatively good test as they won five of the contested 11 bouts and really tested the hosts in another. Sky View forfeited at three weight classes.
“We dropped a couple of important matches that moving toward divisionals are going to hurt us,” GC head coach Ryan Webb said. “... We have got to find a way to dig a little deeper when the score is close. I just didn’t think we had the focus we needed to have. Sky View always is up for wrestling against us. It’s a fun rivalry, but I expect our guys to perform and I don’t feel like we wrestled to our potential.”
Green Canyon got pins from Aaron Shumway (120), Mason Morris (138), Josue Velez (160) and Luke Blake (182). Jared Hurtst (152) prevailed by major decision for the Wolves, while returning 4A state runner-up James Shumway (132) went up a weight class and earned a hard-fought 6-2 decision over Kade Croft. Webb was happy to have Morris, a two-time state placer, back after he injured his shoulder last Thursday against Mountain Crest.
Sky View’s Pedro Lopez (220) only needed 15 seconds to dispatch of his opponent. Four Bobcats were triumphant by decision in Parley Thacker (126), Camron Carling (145), Dee Wilde (170) ‑‑‑ all three athletes by at least four points ‑‑‑ and Malachi Davies (195). Davies held off Will Wheatley 8-7 for arguably Sky View’s biggest victory of the evening.
Bobcat head coach Tony Holden was very, very pleased with his squad and singled out the performances of Thacker, Davies, Croft and Adam Johnson (138), who took Morris deep into the third round.
“Oh, by far (our best dual of the season),” Holden said. “All I told the team is I wanted to go out and compete tonight, and they blew away my expectations. ... (Coach) Webb’s got those guys looking good. I really expected to go out there and fight. I didn’t expect to get the five wins, but my kids really impressed me tonight.”
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies were unable to field wrestlers at five weight classes, which is two fewer than it did a week ago against the Bobcats. Logan heavyweight Ty Stearns stuck Bear River’s Carson Pond in the third round.
The aforementioned 4A Poll was updated Thursday and 11 Mountain Crest grapplers made the cut, led by the top-ranked Evans (113), Lee (138) and Gabe Sanders (145). Other Mustangs included in the poll are Nelson (third at 106), Schroeder (second, 120), Larsen (second, 126), Cooper Sanders (second, 132), Wakefield (third, 152), Guthrie (second, 160), Smith (second, 170) and Hutchinson (third, 182).
Seven Riverhawks are ranked, led by Melani, who is currently No. 1 at 195 pounds. Other Riverhawks in the rankings are Ryan Orduno (fifth, 120), Ty Winward (sixth, 126), Gessell (fifth, 145), Kirk (third, 170), Ptallan Takis (fourth, 182) and Boehme (third, 285).
Green Canyon has five ranked kids in Daxton Darley (fourth, 113), Shumway (third, 126), Jaron Darley (sixth, 132), Morris (second, 138) and Garrett Herzog (second, 285). Sky View’s Croft has entered the rankings at the No. 5 spot at 132.