Senior Trenton White and junior Edgar Gomez each took third place individually to lead the Red Devils to a 12th-place finish out of 18 teams at the UHSAA Utah State 2A Championships Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16 at Utah Valley University.
White earned a pinfall victory 36 seconds into his first-round match before losing to South Summit’s Chance Niesporek, who qualified for state by taking fourth place in Division B, via 7-6 decision and falling into the consolation bracket. After a 10-4 decision and a pinfall victory got him to the third-place match, he avenged his loss, this time defeating Niesporek 4-2.
“The other division has some tough wrestlers,” Grand County wrestling coach Dennis Wells said, noting that in some cases Division B’s 8th-place guy is as good as any wrestler in Division A.
Gomez advanced to the championship semifinals before finding himself on the wrong end of a 4-2 decision against Manti’s Koleton Moon. Gomez rebounded by pinning his next two opponents, Beaver’s Carson Kinross in 3:45 and Millard’s Braden Dixon in 22 seconds for third place. Dixon finished second behind Gomez at the Division A championships a week earlier and Wells said he thought going in that the match between the two would be much closer.
“Edgar was definitely the third-best heavyweight in the state,” Wells said. “The two wrestlers who finished ahead of him went 1-2 in their division as well and have been battling it out all season.”
Junior Gage Lindquist nearly made it to the championship match before being pinned in the championship semifinal against Manti’s Tyson Roberts.
“Gage shot in to take him down and (Roberts) put him in a cradle and pinned him,” Wells said.
After suffering a pinfall-loss to Beaver’s Damon Quintana, he rebounded to defeat Beaver’s Kenyon Green for fifth place.
Wells said freshman Seth Holyoak’s performance was the biggest positive surprise for the Red Devils in the state tournament. Holyoak qualified by finishing eighth in Division A and after losing to the Division B champion in round one, he won his next two matches before losing a 7-0 decision to South Sevier’s Caleb Jones.
“Seth was sick going into the division championships, but he got to practice all this week, which helped him out a lot,” Wells said.
Rounding out the team scoring for Grand County was junior Austin Day, who lost in the first round before earning a pinfall victory in the consolation bracket. Gunnison’s Vidal Salas then eliminated him by pinfall in the second consolation round.
Sophomores Ronnie Dolphin, Robert Allred and Andrew Hugentobler each lost their first two matches to be eliminated from the tournament.
Wells said the Red Devils had much higher hopes and expectations going into the season that didn’t pan out.
“I honestly thought we were going to have one of the best wrestling teams in school history,” he said. “But guys getting injured and other guys we thought would do well and place at state quitting the team… We ended the season giving up five weights, which I don’t think has ever happened before. We usually only have holes in one or two weights.”
Wells said the absence of two wrestlers who placed at state in 2012 and had unfortunate circumstances this season took the Red Devils out of a possible eighth-place finish.
“Dexter Sheets had a chance to be in the championship match at state but he got sick before the division meet and didn’t get to compete and Jacob Francis probably would be a state champion, but he had a shoulder injury from football and tried to wrestle in the beginning but couldn’t. Those two alone would have probably given us 46 more points at state.”
Sheets and White are the team’s only departing seniors, which Wells said bodes well for next year’s squad.
“We’ve got most everybody back next year, but we’ve got only one freshman on the whole squad, which I don’t understand because there are a lot of good athletes who just aren’t coming out,” he said. “If we could get 8-10 kids from every class, which isn’t a lot for a school of our size, we’d be a really good team.”