County wrestlers wrap up successful season
February 19, 2008
Senior Casey Christenson never thought the best day of his life would include blacking out. But when the South Summit High School wrestler was knocked briefly unconscious on Saturday night, it became part of the best match of a thrill-filled championship round at the Utah High School Wrestling Championships at Utah Valley State College.
Christenson’s opponent commited an illegal slam throwing the 145-pound Christianson on his head in the final match. The match was immediately stopped as Christenson lay flat on the mat. The move immediately disqualified Millard’s Quincy Thatcher and gave Christenson the state title. In wrestling rules, in such an instance, the person who was slammed has two minutes to get up and continue the match or may just accept the win based on his opponent’s disqualification.
The stunned Christenson quickly came to and sat there with coaches, trainers and officials before finally deciding to finish the match.
"I said, ‘I don’t think we should win like this,’" said South Summit head wrestling coach Gary Crandall.
"Winning by disqualification is like kissing your sister," agreed Christenson. "I don’t think it’s fair to the other wrestler. If you can get up, you should."
Christenson did get up and came back with a vengeance, aggressively bringing the surprised Thatcher down in a matter of moments.
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"Once you black out, you wrestle on instinct," Christenson said. "When I hit the headlock, I just felt it was there. I didn’t see it."
After Christenson’s win, the entire arena seemed to be behind him, including rival North Summit. Christensen jumped into Crandall’s arms and later embraced North Summit head coach Rene Potter.
"They’ve been watching me wrestle since I was little," Christenson said. "The last 13 years of my life was summed up in that match."
The Wildcats finished second with 227 points and four state champions behind perennial state champion Millard at 278.5 points. That’s one more place and one more wrestler better than last year, so Crandall was pleased.
"As long as we can keep that constant improvement," Crandall said. "They’re a great group of kids and fun to coach."
Christenson wasn’t the only wrestler that had a big night for South Summit. At 103-pounds, Forrest Lucas also stepped up for the team. Deemed a sizable underdog in the final match, Lucas was able to manhandle Manti’s Barton Olsen.
"I just had a lot of confidence," Lucas said. "I had it in my head that I wanted it more."
Senior JT Adlard had the best meet of his life. Adlard, who had never placed at state in the previous three years, stunned the crowd by sweeping through the brackets to claim the state championship in the 130-pound division.
"I told him last year he was the best wrestler I had ever coached who hadn’t placed at state," Crandall said. "He knew it was his senior year. It was now or never."
Adlard said that he was well matched with North Sevier’s Wyatt Mason in the final round, but knew that once he got him on the ground, he could overtake him.
"I think it was really all in my head," said Adlard about his failure to place in previous years. "My coaches helped me overcome the mental part of wrestling."
Crandall’s son Jonsen was also successful, winning the state title in the 125-pound weight class by defeating Millard’s Dakota Payne.
Of course, the running joke between South and North Summit High School has been that if the two schools could combine in wrestling, they’d take the state title every year, as the Wildcats always dominate the lower weights and North Summit shines in the upper weights. So, once again, South Summit’s string of state champions ended as the weight classes began to climb. The team had to forfeit in the 215-pound and heavyweight classes because of a lack of wrestlers.
"We’ve got to find some bigger kids next year," Crandall said, laughing.
One of North Summit’s "big kids" includes 171-pounder Chase Black who was able to beat Millard’s Zack Wilcox. The Braves, who are known for their conditioning, had originally planned to wear out Wilcox in order to capture the win. That never happened as Black was able to get Wilcox on his back and hang on for the victory.
"We thought we’d beat him, but not like that," said Potter.
"I knew when he was on top I’d be able to reverse him," Black said.
"I knew I was in better shape all the training paid off."
Conditioning also helped Caleb Adams. The 152-pound wrestler took the state title in his weight class and attributed much of it to his superior strength and the conditioning the team has received all season. He was able to use his patented leg scissoring move to sort of "squeeze the life out" of his opponent.
"We figured we’d win that one," chuckled Potter. "We just didn’t know how fast."
Coming in second in the 189-pound division was Tyrell Wright, who had been expected to win the state title but got behind late in the match.
"Tyrell’s the hardest working kid on the team," Potter said. "That was the heartbreaker."
The Braves finished in fourth place with 179 points behind Millard, North Summit and Juab.
"I was pretty pleased with them," Potter said. "They worked hard all season."
Working hard includes core strengthening sessions, morning runs and constant drill and technique work. Adams explained that because a fair amount of the North Summit wrestlers don’t begin competing until high school, they rely on they strength and conditioning to beat their more technical competitors.
"When the third round does come, we still have enough gas," Adams said.
It was a special night for Potter who lost his son, Coltan, last year in a car accident. This was Potter’s first state meet without his son, who won an individual state title two years ago after an undefeated season. Coltan’s wrestling shoes were retired at the end of the season and the Most Valuable Wrestler Award at the 2A Duels tournament was also put in his name. Potter wore a tie with his son’s name on it throughout the state meet.
Heavyweight Doug Eaton was the only wrestler from Park City to place in state with a sixth-place finish overall. Eaton said his goal was to finish in the top six and was pleased with the final results.
"It’s actually pretty exciting," Eaton said. "Being one of the only kids to ever place at state from Park City is a great feeling."
For complete results from the state tournament, please see B-4.