The Grand County High School wrestling team qualified five wrestlers for state via their performances at the 3A Divisionals at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
The young and inexperienced Red Devils had four top-eight finishes in Division A: Landon Moralez took fifth at 106 pounds; Jeremiah Perman took sixth at 182 pounds; Jaymmin Hester took seventh at heavyweight, and Blane Thompson took eighth at 170. Jacob Kelley still qualified for State despite going 0-3 in his matches, as only four wrestlers competed in Division B at heavy-weight.
“It went about how I expected it to go because we’re so inexperienced,” GCHS Wrestling Coach Dennis Wells said. “We have one senior who’s inexperienced, a couple of juniors, but they’re also not that experienced. Our most experienced wrestler is Landon Moralez, who is just a freshman, but he came up through Little Devils Wrestling.”
Moralez went 3-2 in his matches, with two wins by fall, two losses by fall and a forfeit victory due to injury in the fifth-place match. In the consolation round two, Moralez pinned teammate Oscar Martinez, who placed 10th overall.
For his sixth-place finish at 182 pounds, Perman had three byes and lost the remainder of his matches by pinfall. Hester went 2-2 in his matches for seventh place, winning once by fall and once by injury default. Thompson also went 2-2 with a pinfall win and an injury default win but finished eighth in his weight class. Also competing for the Red Devils, Jayden Stocks went 0-3 at 126 pounds, losing twice by pinfall; Trenton Nelson went 0-2 at 160 pounds.
Wells praised the job coaches like Beachem Bosh have done with the Little Devils program and said there are a lot of good young wrestlers coming into high school in the next couple of years.
“We hope we get enough of these guys joining to have a full team,” he said. “We’ve got a few more wrestlers this year than we had last year, but still not enough.”
Going into the state meet, all qualified GCHS wrestlers find themselves grappling with higher-ranked opponents, Wells said.
“We just need to get the guys ready,” he said. “We have two weeks. They’ll all be underdogs in their first match so our goal is to see if we can get a couple of guys to win a match or two. It’s going to be an uphill battle.”
The UHSAA Utah State 3A Wrestling Tournament is scheduled to take place on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 14 and 15, at Utah Valley University in Orem.