West Valley • Unlike in previous state tournaments where they dominated from the first pin, the Maple Mountain Golden Eagles have someone nipping at their heels.
And head coach Justin Judkins knows it.
The two-time defending Class 4A state champions entered Thursday’s Day 1 of the UHSAA state wrestling tournament at the Maverik Center with what Judkins described as a small margin for error.
Entering Day 2, the margin remains razor thin.
Maple Mountain (97) leads Mountain Crest (92) entering Friday’s second day of the three-day state tournament which will feature the 4A semifinal matches and the continued consolation bracket.
The Golden Eagles won 12 of their 13 first-round matches Thursday and pushed eight to the semifinals Friday led by the likes of Kimball Bastian (55-0 in 2014), Taylor LaMont, Brooks Robinson and Tanner Cox.
But the Mustangs are right there having advanced six to the semis Friday and have plenty of capable wrestlers who could grab crucial points throughout the consolation rounds.
"If we can push eight to the championships," Judkins said, "we’ll be tough to catch - for any team."
Mountain Crest coach Guy Burdett knows the hike to catch Maple Mountain and dethrone the Golden Eagles is a steep one. But he said it was important for his program to perform the way it did on Day 1, remaining within striking distance heading into Day 2 with 18 wrestlers competing on Friday.
"For us to be successful," Burdett said, "every single kid has to come [Friday] and perform. It’s an entity that has to do well. There’s a large group of us."
But Bastian is set on keeping the 4A title in southern Utah County.
"We knew we were bringing a lot less kids than in previous years," Bastian said.
"We knew there wasn’t any room for mistakes or anything. Judkins has been really good at getting us to peak at just the right moment."
As for the unblemished record staying in tact over the next two days, the 170-pounder shrugged his shoulders saying, "It’s just like any other match."
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