Braves roll out welcome mat
Once a year, the east-side town of Coalville is the place to be –at least for wrestlers.
For the past six years, North Summit High School has slowly been building a reputation among mat masters throughout Utah and beyond with one of the better multi-team tournaments in the country. Once again the 2A school opened its doors to teams from as far north as Bear Lake (Idaho) High School and as far east as Kemmerer, Wyo. and schools of all sizes.
According to North Summit head wrestling coach and North Summit Tournament organizer Rene Potter, the draw is the promise of a strong tournament with solid wrestling.
"The big teams come and run into some good out-of-state teams," Potter said.
This year, the victory went to a big school — 5A Hunter High School, one of the biggest schools in the state, who won with 164 points. Close behind was Bear Lake with 147 and Jordan with 143 points. North Summit was further back in eighth place, but individual honors went to a number of the Braves’ wrestlers. Shoat Roath claimed the 189-pound weight class championship. Chase Black took second in the 171-pound class. Travis Moore (130-pounds) and Ty Wright (171 pounds), both of North Summit, took fourth in their respective weight classes.
"We were pleased with our guys," Potter said. " the time they get to State, they’ll be where we want them."
Park City did not place any wrestlers in the finals, although Curtis Chapman (171-pounds) set a school record with an 11-minute pin for a win in the consolation round.
"It was a pretty slow tournament for us," said Park City head coach Eric O’Conner.
O’Conner said that the North Summit tournament is a good chance for his team to experience a lot of good wrestling all in the same day. He said that midway through the season, the tournament showed him the team needs to improve technique as well as mat awareness, or knowing what to do in certain situations to win. He said more practice and experience should fix that.
TJ Gannon, a 160-pounder from Park City, turned in the best match of the day for the Miners in the first round. Gannon faced Josh Snyder of North Summit in a contest so well matched that it took the boys into sudden-death overtime. Gannon won 6-4.
"It feels good to compete with North Summit," Gannon said. "We’re from Park City, so people think we are not a good team, but with O’Conner’s coaching, we can compete with them."
The North Summit Braves lost only three wrestlers to graduation last year, and continue to welcome strong freshman classes each year. Potter says that most of the progress needs to be made in the direction of experience, more than technique.
He says that some of the younger kids still seem to take the competition mat and wrestle a scrappy "younger brother style," but with leadership from the upperclassmen, they should be ready in a few weeks.
"We’re about halfway now," Potter said. "We’ve got to pick up the pace."
Potter said that he received a positive response from all the teams in attendance at the tournament.
The Wyoming teams had a bit of a challenge making it to Coalville with road closures due to snow. Green River was forced to forfeit and Kemmerer weighed-in at their own high-school before braving the icy Interstate.
As the North Summit Tournament continues to grow in popularity, Potter hopes to see it grow in size as well. Right now, the size of the small high school limits the number of teams and makes the competition day very long. He envisions eventually moving the operation to a larger Park City venue that could hold more mats, such as the Basin Recreation Field House. A larger space would also allow the 16 bracket tournament to expand into a 32-team, two-day event.
"Unless you have a really nice gym, its tough to do it," laments Potter.
The Braves will be back on the mat on December 21 when they host Mountain View at 7 p.m.
Park City will host Juan Diego on Dec. 20 in the gymnasium at 7 p.m. Juan Diego has a little league program that will wrestle with Park City’s youth development program at about 6:15 p.m. prior to the dual meet.
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Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt died Friday from injuries sustained in an off-duty accident earlier in the week, the agency announced.