Orem • It was a minute of hell, probably the toughest minute of Austin Rowley’s wrestling career.
But as the Maple Mountain senior worked desperately to keep ahold of Mountain Crest’s Brady Dart, one thought flashed through his mind.
“It was do or die,” Rowley said. “I had to do it. My dad was state champ, and this could be the last match of my life. It was my only chance to match him.”
The senior 126-pounder was one of four Golden Eagles to win in the Class 4A state wrestling finals Thursday at UVU, helping propel Maple Mountain to its first state title in only its third year of existence.
The team had to hold off a second-day surge by Box Elder, which trailed by only 15 points headed into the finals with more wrestlers competing. But the Golden Eagles went 3 for 5 in head-to-head matches with the defending champion Bees, assuring themselves first place.
Britain Carter and Grant LaMont both repeated as champions — Carter with a 4-1 decision and LaMont with a pin — while Rowley and Jesse Carlisle ambushed opponents who had beaten them earlier in the season. Coach Justin Judkins said the path to the state title had started a year ago, right after the team had finished second to Box Elder.
“We said back there in that tunnel at the end of last year’s tournament that our season doesn’t start in the fall, it starts next Monday,” Judkins said. “These guys worked extremely hard. There wasn’t anything special about it. They outworked other guys.”
The Bees responded to the Eagles’ dominance in the lower weights with head-to-head wins by defending champ Rasten Yeates and junior Nick Sorenson. Wins by Breckin Gunther and Rylee Reeves also helped the team finish out on a high note, but the margin for error was too narrow to mount a comeback. Still, the team found some solace in finishing with a trophy and a handful of individual titles.
“For me, it was pretty personal, because we have kind of a tradition of winning at heavyweight,” said Reeves, who pinned Murray’s Dallas Howard in the first round. “It’s tough not to win, but I thought we had a really good effort.”
Among individual highlights, Olympus’ Brandon McBride stood out. The senior added his fourth and final state title — also sporting ones from Idaho and Illinois — by pinning Box Elder’s Britton Gunther in a minute. His run, which included a pair of pins and two technical falls, led coaches to award him Outstanding Wrestler in the upper weights.
“It’s unbelievable, actually,” McBride said. “I’ve been dreaming about being a four-timer since sixth grade. It’s really amazing.”
Mountain Crest’s Sylas Wells was arguably even more dominant at 220 pounds, recording four pins in as many matches — all in less than a minute. Logan’s Quinn Hinckley earned Outstanding Wrestler at the lower weights, earning his first state championship with a second-round pin in the 132 final.
Final team standings
1. Maple Mountain, 305
2. Box Elder, 289
3. Mountain Crest, 175
4. Logan, 108.5
5. Salem Hills, 91
Note • For individual results, see Scoreboard.