As is the case with most things since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Class 4A state wrestling tournament will have a different look this year.
The tournament has been moved to Richfield’s Sevier Valley Center, instead of its normal home at the UCCU Center in Orem. It’s a one-day tournament instead of two. Only parents of wrestlers are allowed in the stands. And the consolation bracket has been slimmed down, as the semifinal losers will automatically compete for third place instead of having to work their way back.
However, despite all the differences, it should still be just as competitive as ever.
“With the hybrid bracket, where if you make the semifinals you’re in for third and fourth no matter what, I think there’s three guys we can get into that semifinal round, which would be huge,” Stansbury coach Tyson Linnell said. “On that bottom side, it’s going to be who wants it more. If you lose that first round, you’ve got to wrestle four matches to get in there to place.”
Linnell’s Stallions are sending 13 wrestlers to Saturday’s tournament, including eight who competed at the tournament in 2020. Braydon Allie finished sixth at 170 pounds a year ago, while 145-pounder Jordan Hammond was sixth at 126 pounds in 2019. Allie earned a No. 8 seed at 170 this year, while Hammond is a No. 2 seed.
Matt Ingersoll, who competed at last year’s state tournament, returns as a division champion at 285 pounds.
“I think we’ve got a good shot at placing anywhere between three to five guys this year,” Linnell said. “Matt Ingersoll put himself in a good position to hopefully make the state finals by winning the division and Jordan Hammond has a good road to make the semis.”
The Stansbury contingent also includes Xander Howard, a returning state participant who is a No. 3 seed at 195. Others with state tournament experience include Josh Olson (No. 4 at 160), Carson Pease (No. 5 at 106), Brayden Phillips (No. 5 at 132) and Parker Zukeran (No. 6 at 113).
Ethan Vorwaller earned a No. 3 seed at 220, and will be making his first state tournament appearance, as will Brandon Ploehn, a No. 3 seed at 113. Warren Welch (No. 4 at 145), Oliver Avila (No. 6 at 220) and Zane Kanirie (No. 7 at 152) also will make their state debuts.
Tooele is sending nine wrestlers to Richfield, led by 106-pounder Parker Hansen, who finished third at state last year and is a division runner-up this year.
Chandler Yeck is returning to the state tournament as a No. 2 seed at 285 pounds, while Mason Flygare (120) and Cannon Manning (160) are both No. 4 seeds. Tyson Tso (No. 7 at 132) is also making a return trip to state.
Tooele coach Joel Spendlove has been impressed with his team’s resilience in the face of adversity this year, which included a midseason coaching change.
“They’ve exceeded expectations, to be honest,” Spendlove said. “We’ve got a lot of kids who have stepped up this year. As a whole, this team has been through so much this year with the coaching change and the COVID protocols we’ve had to go through. These kids are amazing.”
Ty Proctor earned a No. 3 seed at 152 pounds after an impressive run at the division tournament, and will be making his first appearance at state. Alex Kerwood (No. 6 at 285), Ernest Gurr (No. 7 at 182) and Rhys Stoddard (No. 8 at 132) are also first-timers at the state tournament.
The Tooele girls figure to contend for a top-three spot with a strong contingent of nine wrestlers.
“There’s no reason why we can’t take second or third,” Spendlove said. “Mountain Crest has almost 30 girls, so they’re going to run away with it, but that second, third and fourth spot is open for anybody. I believe we’re one of those teams that can take it.”
Twins Veronica and Vanessa Andersen have had strong seasons, with Veronica going 12-6 at 120 pounds and Vanessa posting an 11-6 record at 115. So, too, have triplets Kenadee (12-4 at 190), Lexee (11-4 at 145) and Shilee Branham (8-10 at 124).
Kaletta Mascarenas and Savannah Malmgren will represent Tooele at 140 pounds, while Kaleolane Ned with compete at 170 and Kirra Johnson will wrestle at 190.
Stansbury freshman Zerren Cornelius will compete in the 108-pound bracket.