Prep 4A wrestling: Maple Mountain wins gold once again
Orem •Â Sprinting up the poorly lit stairs at Utah Valley University, Maple Mountain senior Landon Knutzen made good on his one final shot at glory.
A 138-pounder on the best team in 4A wrestling, Knutzen eyed the night he would have a chance to wrestle under the lights with an entire crowd fixated on the mat he competed on.
In fact, he couldn't get it out of his mind.
Last year, Knutzen, then a highly ranked 132-pounder junior, was preparing to wrestle at the Region 8 tournament. He weighed in on the dot at Maple Mountain before jumping on the bus to head to the tournament, but once there, he came in a sliver over.
He couldn't wrestle at region. He couldn't wrestle at state.
So when he defeated Box Elder's Teagan Hubbard 3-0 Thursday night, one of the many Golden Eagle stars finally earned his wings.
"I did it," Knutzen said. "It's what I've been working for, what I've been waiting for and I did it."
He was one of many.
Maple Mountain defended its 4A straight crown from a year ago with ease, going 7 for 9 in Thursday night's 4A finals and finishing with a combined 360 points, 58.5 points ahead of second place Box Elder.
"No matter where I took them, we didn't just win, we dominated," said Maple Mountain coach Justin Judkins.
Thursday night was a typical night for the Golden Eagles.
Senior 120-pounder Britain Carter won his fourth straight state title. Grant LaMont won his third straight, while younger brother Taylor won his first championship. Josh Searle and Jon Wixom also capped off their 2012-13 seasons as best wrestlers in their weight.
Then there was 160-pounder Kimball Bastian.
The Maple Mountain grappler faced off against rival and two-time defending state champion Rasten Yeates of Box Elder in the finals. Earlier this year, Yeates defeated Bastian in triple overtime.
Going into the gold-medal match, Judkins wondered if Bastian, who competed with a torn meniscus in his knee, believed he had a chance to defeat one of the best wrestlers in the state.
"Tonight I looked in his eyes and knew I got him to buy in," Judkins said.
Bastian upset the two-time champ in a physical, bloody match with a 5-3 victory.
"The guy who wins last," Judkins said, "he's the champ."
For Carter, completing his four-peat was a feat he was nervous about going in. The future Columbia University wrestler said the pressure was definitely on to become part of an elite group to leave high school wrestling with four state titles.
"You have to be the four-timer," he said, "not the guy who won the first three years and lost his senior year."
Now, Maple Mountain must move forward, both as state champions and as state champions that must replace irreplaceable talent.
"When you get a group of wrestlers who are so good, you get this mentality of, 'We need to be the very best,' " Carter said.
For a second year in a row, the Golden Eagles were pure gold.
Twitter: @chriskamrani -
4A state wrestling team results:
1. Maple Mountain (360)
2. Box Elder (301.5)
3. Mountain Crest (175.5)
4. Mountain View (108)
5. Herriman (99)
4A state final results:
1. Chandler Strand (Herriman)
2. Cody Lightfoot (Murray)
3. Tanner Cox (Maple Mountain)
1. Taylor LaMont (Maple Mountain)
2. Jaron Jensen (Herriman)
3. Marshall Curtis (Maple Mountain)
1. Britain Carter (Maple Mountain)
2. J.J. Evans (Orem)
3. Lukas Erickson (Olympus)
1. Brady Dart (Mountain Crest)
2. Trent Kelly (Maple Mountain)
3. Zeth Porter (Clearfield)
1. Shand Hardy (Box Elder)
2. Rayen Lindley (Mountain Crest)
3. Brigg Butler (Westlake)
1. Landon Knutzen (Maple Mountain)
2. Teagan Hubbard (Box Elder)
3. Mason Kendrick (Mountain Crest)
1. Jacob Armstrong (Salem Hills)
2. Jordan Wengreen (Mountain Crest)
3. Jesse Carlisle (Maple Mountain)
1. Grant LaMont (Maple Mountain)
2. Matt Williams (Box Elder)
3. Kaden Lindley (Mountain Crest)
1. Kimball Bastian (Maple Mountain)
2. Rasten Yeates (Box Elder)
3. Jesse Crossett (Mountain View)
1. Nick Sorenson (Box Elder)
2. Kieffer Taylor (Maple Mountain)
3. Alex Werling (Box Elder)
1. Josh Searle (Maple Mountain)
2. Taylon Niederhauser (Mountain Crest)
3. Jake Tolman (Box Elder)
1. Jon Wixom (Maple Mountain)
2. Breckin Gunter (Box Elder)
3. Dylan Mathis (Bonneville)
1. Joe Flores (Box Elder)
2. Micah Ngatuvai (Mountain View)
3. Zach Hansen (Springville)
1. Jacoby Wildman (Logan)
2. PJ Nu'usa (East)
3. Kohler Smoot (Box Elder)