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It appears Mountain Crest’s wrestling team is peaking at the right time.

The Mustangs’ final test before divisionals and the 4A State Championships was a successful one as they beat four-time 3A defending state champion Juab in a dual and at their own tournament. The Mustangs dispatched of the Wasps, 40-22, on Friday, and then won the 16-team Davie Swensen Invitational the following day.

“I think our team is known for getting the job done,” MC star Gabe Sanders said. “We feed off each other’s wins and get on a roll, and then there’s no stopping us. We’re definitely feeling good going into divisionals and state. As long as we all do our part, I think we’ll see success.”

In their dual against the Wasps, the Mustangs won eight of the 14 matches, and three of their loses were by one or two points. Mountain Crest got victories from Luke Schroeder (120 pounds), Elijah Larsen (126), Cooper Sanders (132), Gabe Sanders (145), Jordan Wakefield (152), Brock Guthrie (160), Walker Hutchinson (182) and Andrew Belles (220). Belles, Hutchinson, Guthrie and both Sanders brothers won by fall. Gabe Sanders pinned Chase Ingram, who is a returning state champion.

Mountain Crest’s Easton Evans (113) lost a 6-4 nailbiter to Kaden Ercanbrack who, like the Mustang sophomore, was a state finalist a year ago. Mustang senior Cael Smith (170) fell in heartbreaking fashion to reigning state champ Will Harmon, 8-7.

The following day, Mountain Crest reigned supreme against arguably the top two programs at the 3A level in Juab and Morgan. The Wasps and Trojans welcomed back a combined 15 state medalists this season, including six champions. Mountain Crest racked up 280.5 points at the Davie Swensen Invite, followed by Juab (247) and Morgan (222.5).

The tourney was formed in honor of former Mountain Crest head coach Davie Swensen, who led the program to five state championships.

“Davie has done so much for Mountain Crest and the sport of wrestling, and we hope to always have a great tournament with good competition,” MC head coach Jay Tovey said.

Thirteen Mountain Crest varsity wrestlers finished in the top five in their respective weight class. The Mustangs had four titleists in Evans (106), Gabe Sanders (145), Jordan Wakefield (152) and Brock Guthrie (160), plus five other finalists in Schroeder (120), Cooper Sanders (132), Terrell Lee (138), Smith (170) and Hutchinson (182). Additionally, Carter Nelson, representing MC’s JV squad, made it to the finals at 106 pounds, where he lost by one point to Evans.

Gabe Sanders pinned a returning state placer from Murray in the finals and has been absolutely dominating his competition since a close win at the All-Star Duals at the beginning of January. The junior has only lost once this season — to future Cornell University grappler Daniel Cardenas —and is the fourth-ranked high school wrestler in Utah regardless of weight or classification.

“I’ve felt solid all season,” Sanders said. “That All-Stars match ended up being a close one and I definitely felt like I could have wrestled better and more aggressively. I’ve been focusing on scoring more points and having fun, and feel good about how that’s working.”

“Gabe has been unreal this year,” Tovey said. “He is a good team leader and has turned the corner with his running and lifting this year. The thing about Gabe is he never stops wrestling. He always is moving forward and has constant pressure. He is really fun to watch.”

Cooper Sanders, Lee and Smith were all defeated in the finals by defending state champs or runner-ups, while Hutchinson lost in triple overtime.

Mountain Crest’s other medalists were Porter Johnson (fourth, 113), Larsen (third, 126), Hunter Hammer (fifth, 195) and Belles (third, 220). Larsen’s lone setback was a 10-9 thriller in the semifinals to 2020 Idaho 3A champ Brock Young of Marsh Valley.

In addition to Nelson, Mountain Crest’s JV squad had two other placers in Wyatt Coulam (fourth, 132) and Bridger Thalman (third, 160).

Ridgeline had six athletes finish in the top five in their respective weight class, led by champion Ronan Melani (195), who stuck a returning 3A consolation finalist from Juab in the championship round. Other Riverhawks who placed in the top five were Brenden Gessell (fourth, 145), Ethan Buchanan (fourth, 152), Sam Pirtle (fourth, 160), Ptallan Takis (fifth, 182) and Daimien Boehme (third, 285).

Brandon Ure was fifth at 152 pounds for Ridgeline’s JV team.

Logan had two grapplers place in the top five in Kadin Halona (fifth, 160) and Ty Stearns (fourth, 285).

Ridgeline finished fifth in the team competition with 121.5 points, MC’s JV team was sixth (104.5) and Logan 11th (66).

PREP GIRLS WRESTLING

The Lady Mustangs hosted their first-ever tournament, the MC Filly Invitational, and placed second out of 25 teams. Copper Hills edged Mountain Crest by 11 points, 192-181.

The Mustangs had a pair of champions in Gabriella Norton (108) and Jalise Wakley (124), plus four other finalists in Rylee Turnbow (115), Brooklyn Swanson (132), Hanna Evans (140) and Sophia Hansen (245). Wakley pinned all four of her opponents.

Other Mountain Crest competitors in the top five of their respective weight class were Eastyn Nyman (fifth, 124), Cristell Flores (third, 136), Sophie Longson (third, 140), Jenna McDougal (third, 145), Rylie Geary (fifth, 145), Teagan Hall (fourth, 160), Audrey Stabile (fifth, 170) and Sheccid Alvarado (fourth, 190).

Ridgeline brought two girls to the tourney and two of them medaled in Madelyne Topham (third, 128) and Makayla Pigmataro (fourth, 170). Logan’s Kynlie Nelson went 2-2 at 128 pounds.

Bear River finished fifth in the tournament with 89 points, while Ridgeline was ninth (39) and Logan tied for 20th (seven).

PREP BOYS HOOPS

West Side earned a big 65-58 victory over Soda Springs on Saturday and has earned at least a share of the regular season district title. Not only did the Pirates (13-3, 5-0) extend their winning streak to 10, they swept their series with the Cardinals (8-8, 1-3).

Bryler Shurtliff went off for 29 points for the Pirates, who got 12 points from Blaize Brown and 11 from Easton Henderson. Shurtliff went 12 for 15 from the free throw line.

“Could’ve went either way,” WS head coach Tyler Brown said. “We were fortunate to make a few plays in the fourth quarter.”

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.

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