Park City hosts region wrestling finals
February 9, 2008
Wrestling in Region 10 with a team like Wasatch is a tall order. Of course it would be a tall order for any team in the nation. The Wasps are consistently ranked tops in the nation making it difficult for any team it comes in contact with. So, it was no surprise when the Wasps walked away with the title. Still, Uintah High School managed to come close to winning the region title at Park City High School on Thursday.
The Utes came close this way: Uintah was able to garner a lot of points through the six rounds of competition. The feat will not likely be reproduced at the 3A state finals next week when other schools around the state will eliminate the Uintah Utes before the championship round, while Wasatch expects to have many wrestlers in the finals and once again claim the state crown.
Wasatch won with 324.5 points, followed by Uintah with 319 points, Union with 103 and Park City with 32 points.
Park City head coach David McNaughtan pointed out that many of the projected state champions wrestled on the Park City floor on Thursday. McNaughtan said that boys in the 112-, 119-, 125-, 152-, 160-, 171-, 189- ad 215-pound divisions in the region finals will all likely win the individual state championships.
"That’s how tough our region is," McNaughtan marveled.
In fact, Park City has beaten other 3A teams like Ogden and Ben Lomond at tournaments, but when it comes down to region meets they regularly face the toughest competition in the state.
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Still, McNaughtan says that he tells his team that they can beat any wrestler despite their team and record.
"I tell them to not look at the color of the singlet and just wrestle," McNaughtan said. "They can beat wrestlers from Wasatch and Uintah."
It was still a great day for the Miners who qualified five wrestlers for the state championships next weekend at Utah Valley State College (UVSC) in Orem.
"That is probably the most we’ve ever had," said Park City assistant coach Doug Payne.
Payne and McNaughtan said that they had hoped for more, but were pleased with the effort of those who made it.
"We’re happy we qualified five, but we could’ve qualified seven," McNaughtan said.
Curtis Chapman and Jake Knight were both ahead in matches that would’ve qualified them and lost.
Leading the Miners was Justus Minardi, the lone Park City wrestler to make it to the championship round. He opened the afternoon with a win against Wasatch’s Tanner Sweat, who had beaten Minardi just last week.
"He came back to beat him," said a pleased Payne.
Minardi lost by pin to Uintah’s Colby Christensen in the second period, but it was a better outcome than last year when Christensen broke Minardi’s arm at the region championships effectively ending his chance to compete at State.
"That was how I got out of the first cradle remembering that he broke my arm," Minardi said. "It gave me the extra burst of strength, but he was too fast on the second one."
Minardi’s broken arm last year is just one of many injuries he has endured. He started this year breaking his hand and his nose at the Carbon Duels.
Also qualifying for the state championship was heavyweight Doug Eaton, 189-pound Renny Hixson, Bryce Delnort in the 152 pound class and Mitch Freckleton at the 215-pound weight class.
Eaton will head to the finals with the third seed in the region, after beating Jeff Murray easily in the consolation finals with a 30-second win in the first period.
"I expected it to go to the second round," said Eaton after his final match. "It was just experience and having the extra weight over him."
Eaton came back from a second-round loss against Uintah’s Rusty Farnsworth to beat Sterling Royall.
"I just had my head in it better. I was focused," said Eaton after defeating the Farnsworth. "I’m a little disappointed because I should have won my first match. At least I’m going to State this year."
Hixson took third place after a 40-second pin in the consolation finals. Hixson was battling the flu and hopes that he can perform even better next week when he’s healthy.
"I could have done better," Hixson said. "I’m happy I made it to state, that’s been my goal all year."
Delnort finished in fourth place overall after getting with just four seconds left in the fourth round.
"I could’ve done better," said Delnort as well. "I was disappointed with my second match."
He is still excited to be headed to the state tournament as a sophomore.
"I don’t know what to expect, so I hope this can be a good learning experience," Delnort said.
Freckleton is also headed to State for the first time after finishing in fifth place at in the 215-pound class. He said wrestling against the "big-dogs" like Wasatch and Uintah made him a little nervous Thursday night, but plans to head to UVSC with a clear mind.
"I’m just trying to go into State completely calm and see what happens," Freckleton said.
The Miners who qualified for the state tournament will spend the week preparing their skills and technique.
Payne, who is also the athletic director at Park City said that even though things didn’t go as smoothly for his team as he would have liked, he was happy with how well the meet went. This is the first time the school has hosted the event since 2003.
"It ran smoothly because of the great volunteers and parents who stepped up and made a big difference," McNaughtan added.
The Utah State Wrestling Championships will take place next Friday and Saturday at UVSC. All three Summit County high schools, Park City, South Summit and North Summit will be sending wrestlers to the match.