Prep wrestling: Payson pulls ahead in Class 3A
By Eric BUtler
Special to The TribuneFirst published Feb 14 2014 11:06PM
West Valley City • After winning his last match of the day, Payson High junior Riley Loveless said that it was possible that his hometown might be one that is known for its wrestling.
That being said, it certainly would follow that the Loveless name would have contributed much to that reputation.
At the end of the first day of competition at the Utah state wrestling tournament, Payson was right in the chase for the team title in Class 3A with foes such as Uintah and Juab. Loveless, who won an individual state title a year ago at 120 pounds, will seek another title at 126 in the championship round today at the Maverik Center.
But its team glory that Loveless has his eyes on.
"It’s a big deal in Payson. We’re kind of known as a wrestling school," Loveless said. "We were really close last year; we lost by seven or eight points. It’s all I think about. We’ve lost two state team titles and we’re not going to lose another one."
Loveless pinned Morgan’s Owen Pentz to earn his place in a championship bout. Riley’s cousin Hagen Loveless, a senior for Payson, also advanced at 138 pounds with a win over Uintah’s Cody Merkley, and Hagen’s younger brother Jed Loveless advanced to the finals at 106.
All of those Loveless grapplers have older brothers who went on to wrestle collegiately as well.
"I’ve already won one [state title] individually. I’d really like to get one with the team," Riley Loveless said.
In Class 2A, returning champs such as Millard’s Chase Kelly, North Sevier’s Brendon Sorenson and South Summit’s Matt Lee found continuing success while wrestling at higher weight classes.
"I feel like it’s going pretty good. I’m staying offensive and keeping the pressure on them, that’s how I’ve been winning matches," said Lee, after knocking off North Sevier’s Casen Burgess in a 120-pound semifinal.
Monticello’s Hunter Bouring, after beating Duchesne’s Braiden Clayburn to grab a spot in the Class 1A finals at 126 pounds, thought that winning a previous individual championship did have an upside when it came to trying to repeat.
"I think it kind of puts a target on your back too," said the Buckaroo senior. "Kids want to go out and beat you, but I think there’s an intimidation factor that kind of goes with it — it kind of works both ways."