Prep wrestling: Pleasant Grove builds big lead in 5A; Maple Mountain leads 4A
By christopher kamrani
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Feb 14 2014 11:04PM
West Valley City • Two defending state champions concurred on something Friday night: It’s going to take a village to dethrone the three-time Class 5A champion Pleasant Grove Vikings.
Syracuse’s Teague Vigil, who won last year’s 152-pound state title, is entering Saturday’s 145-pound final with a chance to pen the end to his high school wrestling career with back-to-back state titles. But the Titan knows that if his program — or any program for that matter — should catch the Vikings in the future, it’ll be a tall task.
"They have a solid varsity team," Vigil said moments after advancing to the 145-pound final, "but their JV is not far behind."
Pleasant Grove’s TJ Wind echoed Vigil in the wake of the Vikings’ second straight day of dominance at the state wrestling tournament at the Maverik Center, where they lead second-place Layton by 85 points. The defending 160-pound champion, now wrestling at 170 and into Saturday’s final, said other 5A schools must replicate what the Vikings have fortified in Utah County.
"For someone to beat Pleasant Grove," Wind said, "they’re going to have to create a dynasty."
Wind is wrestling 10 pounds heavier in his senior season due to the proximity to the football season ending in November. He was upward of 195 pounds in the summer and kept the weight on to strengthen an already-formidable Vikings squad.
But this year, while similar for Pleasant Grove, is different for Wind. Last year, he was a relative unknown. He was ranked fifth in his weight class entering the state tournament.
"Last year, there was no pressure," Wind said. "This year, there’s a target on my back, there’s expectations and I need to do what people are expecting me to do."
Vigil’s approach to the Saturday spotlight isn’t one many would familiarize with such an intense sport such as wrestling. When the defending champ preps for a match, he finds a secluded spot, shuffles in search of relaxing music and says a prayer.
"State’s a weird tournament," Vigil said. "I go out there and wrestle my match rather than worrying about who the other person is."
It worked last year and it’s working again this year, but Vigil realizes the task.
"You make it to the state finals," he said, "you’re tough."
In 4A, Friday was much like Thursday.
Two-time defending 4A champion Maple Mountain again leads Mountain Crest by five points as the two programs are neck-and-neck entering Saturday’s consolation-round finals as well as the championship finals, which begin at 4:30 p.m. While the Golden Eagles sent six wrestlers into the finals, the Mustangs qualified just two of their six semifinalists, but won seven of their eight consolation matches Friday.
"I thought there would have been a little more distance between us one way or the other," Mountain Crest coach Guy Burdett said, laughing. "I was wrong."