Stansbury wrestling coach Tyson Linnell has been to the Best of the West tournament at Tooele High School many times, but until Saturday, his teams had yet to come away with the top spot.
The Stallions broke that curse this year, with individual champions Anthony Herrera and Dawson Stewart leading the way as Stansbury edged Fremont for the team title.
“I’ve been coming here for 10 years now — five with Kearns and five with Stansbury,” Linnell said. “I took second twice with Kearns, and now I finally got that first championship with Stansbury. I’m real happy. The guys have been working really hard to get here, so I’m glad they get a taste of winning a tournament.”
Herrera, the 132-pound champion, picked up a narrow 5-4 decision against Carson Halls of Woods Cross in the final match. Herrera improved his record to 28-4 this season.
“I stayed smart and tried not to do anything stupid to get put on my back or get rolled or anything like that,” Herrera said. “I kind of just stayed in my position and kept the offense going.”
Stewart’s 10-6 win over Fremont’s Davian Hendrix at 152 pounds clinched the team title for the Stallions, who beat the Silver Wolves 186-177.5. Josh Larsen (120 pounds), Logan Gustafson (145) and Josh Witkowski (285) also advanced to the finals in their respective weight classes.
“It’s hard to wrestle in the finals and hard to wrestle guys we’ve seen a lot this year,” Linnell said. “[Stewart’s] match — it came down to that match between us and Fremont. If we lose that match, Fremont wins [the tournament]. Dawson didn’t know that, but he stepped up big and got the tournament win for the team by winning that match.”
Dylian Moore (113) and Jacob Medsker (160) had third-place finishes for Stansbury. Danny Khoundet (113) and Sean Warren (220) each finished fourth; Jacob Jones (132), Austin Woodhouse (138) and Tyler Evans (170) were fifth and Josh Mendenhall (152) took sixth.
“I feel way good about where we’re at as a team and individually,” Herrera said.
Tooele finished third, a point and a half behind Fremont. Junior Angel Garcia won the 182-pound title in dramatic fashion, beating Dixie’s Cutler Thomas in the final seconds.
“I had to dig deep, wrestle hard and wrestle smart,” Garcia said. “He was a tough kid. I worked hard for this. I’ve wanted to win this title since my freshman year. It’s a big thing. My family’s here, my friends … it’s a big thing.”
Garcia’s teammate, Brady Knight, was the runner-up at 126 pounds. The Buffaloes had 13 wrestlers place in the top six in their weight class, showing the team’s depth entering this week’s crucial Region 10 duals against Park City, Union and Stansbury.
“We’re pumped,” Garcia said. “As a team, we’re working hard. We haven’t lost to Stansbury and we’re planning not to lose again. It’s going to come down to us and Stansbury for the region title.”
Tooele’s third-place finishers included Wyatt Chaplin (138), Dakotah Galvin (195) and Zach Dean (220). D’Warren Robinson (145) and Hinckley Alesana (285) finished fourth. Isaiah Salazar (106), Eli Messick (126), Carter Grgich (160) and Patrick Si’i Iongi (195) were fifth, and Ethan Hunter (113) and Marcello Harryman (170) took sixth.
Grantsville’s Bronco Cloward beat Witkowski 3-1 in the 285-pound final. The result was similar to their Jan. 5 showdown in a Region 10 dual at Stansbury, where Cloward barely held off Witkowski.
“He’s a good opponent — and he’s hard to pin,” Cloward said. “I can never get him pinned. We’re comparable in size and strength, and that’s why it’s so close. It’s so hard to get anything on each other.”
The Cowboys finished eighth of 13 teams with 89 points. Koby Johnson was third at 145 pounds, while Thomas Coates (106), Brayden Adams (138) and Seth Anderson (195) each finished fourth.
“I’m very proud of myself — I think I’ve come a long way and I’m going to keep going up and peak at state,” Cloward said. “With the team, it’s the same thing. I feel like, all together, we’re doing really well and working really hard.”
Tooele faced Park City and Union in a tri-meet in Roosevelt that was not complete at press time Tuesday. Grantsville travels to Park City on Thursday, while Tooele will host Stansbury on Thursday with the region title on the line.