ridgeline mountain crest wrestling

Mountain Crest’s Easton Evans, left, wrestles Ridgeline’s Jackson Semadeni during a Region 11 dual last season. Evans won his all-star match on Tuesday in Orem.

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Cache Valley was certainly well represented at one of the most popular high school wrestling showcases in the Beehive State.

A record 18 local prep athletes competed at the Ross Brunson All-Star Dual, which took place Tuesday evening at the UCCU Center in Orem. The 22nd installment of this event featured 84 boys and a record 56 girls.

The Mountain Crest girls, the inaugural 4A state champions, led the way locally with nine all-star selections, followed by the Mountain Crest boys with six, the Ridgeline boys with two and the Ridgeline girls with one. It was a pretty memorable evening for the Mustang boys as they won four of their six matches, plus threatened to go 6-0.

It was the second straight year Easton Evans and Brock Guthrie showcased their talents at the All-Star Dual, and both Mustangs made the most out of their second opportunity. Evans, a defending state champion, only needed 80 seconds to dispatch of South Summit’s Weston Blake, while Guthrie rallied past Wasatch’s Charlie Fassold.

Evans, a two-time state finalist, secured a pretty quick takedown against Blake in their 120-pound showdown and finished off a pinning combination at the 1:20 mark of the opening round. Blake was a 3A consolation state champion at 120 pounds a year ago.

“Easton has probably wrestled more matches than anybody on our team the last couple of years and has made huge improvements each time out,” MC boys coach Jay Tovey said.

Guthrie, a two-state state placer, trailed 4-1 at the end of the first round against Fassold, who pinned him earlier this season at the Wasatch Intermountain Duals. The senior outscored Fassold 7-2 in the second period and came through with a late takedown in the third to earn a 10-7 victory in the 175-pound weight class.

“Brock avenged a loss from earlier in the (season to that kid) and is also just starting to find his rhythm,” Tovey said. “He is going to be very tough to beat toward the end of the year.”

Also reigning supreme for the Mountain Crest boys were Luke Schroeder (126) and Hunter Hammer (215).

Schroeder, a 2020 state champion and two-time state medalist, stormed out to a 8-2 lead in the first round against Duchesne’s Gatlen Farnsworth. Farnsworth, a returning 2A state champion at 113 pounds, had a good third round, but Schroeder still prevailed, 12-9.

“Luke looked great and scored lots of points,” Tovey said. “He is the epitome of hard word and consistency.”

Hammer, a consolation 4A champ a year ago, gave up the first takedown in his bout against Enterprise’s Dean Busher, but dominated the rest of the way. The junior was leading 12-2 less than one minute into the second round when he stuck Busher, who placed fourth at 195 pounds at the last year’s 2A State Championships.

“We have loved the way Hunter has been practicing and competing this year,” Tovey said. “His potential is through the roof and he has so much more to learn. We’re excited about him and his future.”

The Mustangs were also represented on the boys side by Carter Nelson (113) and Terrell Lee (144), who was a bit unlucky in his match against Piute’s McKray Gayler, who was the 1A state titleist at 138 pounds last season. Lee, a three-time state placer, was called for an illegal slam late in the first round. Gayler “hopped right up, Tovey asserted, “and their coaches decided not to wrestle, giving Terrell the loss.”

“Tough deal for Terrell, but he is such a positive kid,” Tovey said. “He will move on quickly and get to the next thing.”

Meanwhile, Nelson gave Payson’s Aaron Garcia, a returning 6A state champion at 106 pounds, all he could handle before losing 3-1 in overtime. Nelson placed fourth at state last season.

All six of those Mountain Crest grapplers competed on the 4A team — there was a wildcard squad in the competition — as did Ridgeline’s Ty Winward (138) and Ronan Melani (190). Winward and Melani both had chances to prevail, but lost by a combined three points.

Melani missed both of the Riverhawks’ dual a week ago, plus the Richardson Memorial, while recovering from the flu and wasn’t 100 percent from a conditioning standpoint for Tuesday’s showdown against Lehi’s Will McCleary, a returning 5A state medalist. Melani, a defending state champion, trailed 2-1 after the first round, was even at 2-2 after the second and only trailed 3-2 for most of the third before giving up a takedown and ultimately falling, 5-3.

A fully healthy Melani is arguably the best 190-pounder in the state. The senior placed third at the very prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions last month and garnered All-America honors in the process.

Winward recorded an early takedown against Spanish Fork Junior Wetzel and led nearly the entire bout. A takedown gave Wetzel a 4-3 lead advantage with about 40 seconds remaining in the third round and rode Winward the rest of the way. Ridgeline boys coach Jarrett Morrill felt his returning state medalist was a bit gassed out after having to cut weight earlier in the week than normal.

“It’s kind of the same thing I said about Ronan (in that) when you don’t feel 100 percent, there’s nothing you can do about it, but you’ve got to still manage that match wisely and capitalize on your opportunities, so I think he’ll learn that lesson,” Morrill said. “It was a bummer to lose that one because he was great position to win it. ... I think both of those kids will learn from (their All-Star match).”

The wildcard squad was victorious in the boys competition as it racked up 44 points, followed by the 5A All-Stars (37), 6A All-Stars (27), 4A All-Stars (21), 1A/2A All-Stars (12) and 3A All-Stars (12).

Conversely, this was the first year the girls were organized into teams at the All-Star Dual. The 2020-21 season was the first time girls wrestling was a sanctioned sport in Utah, thus there weren’t as many athletes selected for this event a year ago and in years past.

The 6A All-Stars were triumphant as they amassed 50 points. The 1A-2A-3A All-Stars were second with 42, followed by the 5A All-Stars (37) and 4A All-Stars (19).

It was a challenging evening for the Lady Mustangs, but that happens sometimes against elite competition. Mountain Crest went 2-7, while Ridgeline’s Madelyne Topham (130) put together a memorable performance.

Topham squared off against Provo’s Katelyn Wolf, who was also a state runner-up in her weight class a year ago. Topham wasted little time taking Wolf down and pinning her 48 seconds into the duel.

“She came in feeling good and ready to go,” RHS girls coach Melanie Montierth said. “We talked about going in there, wrestling her match and leaving it all on the mat, knowing she could be proud of herself and her wrestling no matter the outcome. She had good positioning and ended with a pretty quick pin. We were overjoyed with the outcome. She has worked hard. Back to the grindstone tomorrow to continue that road to state.”

The Lady Mustangs were led by Eastyn Nyman (125) and Mattee Turnbow (105). Nyman was in complete control against her opponent, while Turnbow was triumphant in thrilling fashion.

Nyman recorded five takedowns and scored back points once en route to a 14-4 win over Juab’s Grace Holman. Nyman scored at least four points in every round.

“Eastyn Nyman is a wrestler you love to watch because she is aggressive and never stops moving,” MC girls coach Janae Liljenquist said. “Her takedowns and double legs are a beautiful sight as her coach. Eastyn met her opponent at our first tournament in November at Westlake for the Girls Wrestle for Cancer and Eastyn came off with a hard loss. She didn’t dwell on the loss, but she learned from it and came back stronger.”

Turnbow was the dominant wrestler on her feet against returning state runner-up Annika Futch of Park City, but Futch was able to executed a five-point move in the second round. To her credit, Turnbow came through with a reversal in the waning seconds of the third round, and then took Futch down for the third time in the match — this time in overtime — to secure a hard-fought 9-7 victory.

“Mattee Turnbow had an incredible match that showed true heart,” Liljenquist said. “She continued to fight to the very last second. She knew she was down by two points with short time in the last period and dug deep to score a reversal. In overtime, she was mentally strong and finished with grit, fighting for (that) takedown. We are so proud of her early success this season as a freshman and know she will only continue to perfect her wrestling style.”

Mountain Crest was also represented by Brinley Cowley (110), Rylee Turnbow (115), Cristell Flores (140), Talia Johansen (155), Teagan Hall (170), Kennedy Peapealalo (190) and Sheccid Alvarado (235). Alvarado is a defending state champion, while Flores and Johansen are reigning 4A runner-ups. Additionally, Hall, Cowley and Turnbow were state medalists last winter.

All seven of those Mustangs ended up losing by fall, but most of those matches were very competitive for a while and were ultimately decided in the second and third rounds. Hall recorded the first takedown and took a 2-1 lead into the second round against Grantsville’s Hannah Brodrick, a reigning state champ.

Cowley ended up filling in for teammate Jalise Wakley — something she didn’t know would happen until 9:30 on Tuesday morning. It was Cowley’s seventh match since last Saturday, and she only trailed by three points when she got pinned in the third round.

“Brinley is one of the hardest workers in the room. She puts in extra to improve her wrestling,” Liljenquist said. “The opportunity to wrestle in the All-Stars may have come in a round about way for her, but she earned her place with her work ethic and commitment to wrestling and our team.”

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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