South Summit wrestling: ‘Cats finish fourth at state meet
February 24, 2012
Gary Crandall must now move on.
The head coach of the South Summit High School wrestling team waved goodbye to some talented senior wrestlers last weekend at the annual state tournament at Utah Valley University.
One year removed from a shocking 2A state championship, the Wildcats finished fourth, but had a flurry of impressive performances at this year’s tournament in Orem.
Crandall and his staff saw off Jeff McCormick, the tenacious 145-pound wrestler who completed a rare feat, winning his fourth-straight 2A state championship. McCormick, who dominated as many weight classes as he could — winning 112-pound, 130-pound and 140-pound titles his freshman, sophomore and junior years — ended his high-school career in typical fashion, pinning his opponent to secure his four-peat in just 47 seconds. McCormick is the 17th four-time state champion wrestler in Utah history.
"He’s like a machine," Crandall said. "He doesn’t get too emotional; he goes out there and takes care of business.
"He’s always been that way since he was little. He’s never been real emotional one way or the other, win or lose."
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McCormick finished his senior season with a record of 53-1 and was named the Outstanding Wrestler in the lower weight classes.
"He just takes care of what he needs to take care of," Crandall said. "Ninety-nine percent of the time that’s a win."
South Summit’s head coach also saw off his son, Connor, who avenged his 2011 2A final loss to Kanab’s Josh Urizanza, with a state championship in the 160-pound class.
Connor Crandall was also named an Outstanding Wrestler, and was chosen an Academic All-State selection.
"That was a tough match for him," Crandall explained. "He had beat (Urizanza) a couple of times earlier this year. But Connor’s big match was his semifinals match against a kid from South Sevier who was the state runner-up last year and lost to Jeff (McCormick). We knew that’d be a very tough match, knew it would be. It came down to the last 30 seconds and Connor got two back points and won 2-0."
Connor Crandall finished his senior year with a record of 48-6
"He’s wrestled since he was in third grade," Gary Crandall said. "Last year, I think, he went in a little overconfident and kind of got surprised. But for the time and work he’s put in this year, it was nice for him to get one."
Fellow senior McKay DeGering was also able to write his name in the record books with a state championship victory in the 126-pound class. DeGering, who had never qualified for a state final in wrestling, took third a year ago.
"He was huge," Crandall said. "Having not been in the finals before, we could tell as soon as he walked on the mat. We called it a ‘senior sense of urgency,’ and McKay had a senior sense of urgency. He just wanted it."
DeGering defeated Brendon Turner of Millard in the final match, 8-3, securing his first state championship. DeGering was also named to the Academic All-State team. Paired with Crandall, this is the first time two South Summit wrestlers have been named Academic All-State athletes in the same season.
"McKay paid a price," Gary Crandall said. "He went to three camps last summer and always went to practice. He wasn’t going to leave anything to chance."
Perhaps the most emotional moment of the night came when Wildcat wrestler Cole Craggs defied all odds and refused to quit. Craggs was facing North Sevier’s Brennon Sorenson in the 132-pound final match when he pulled several ligaments in his ankle, also suffering a high-ankle sprain.
Craggs used his two minutes of injury time to regroup, stood up and finished the match. Craggs lost to Sorenson but received a standing ovation from the crowd at UVU.
"He kind of knew he would have a hard time winning it," Crandall said. "He could have used the excuse ‘I’m hurt,’ but he showed a lot of guts. He said, ‘Even if I lose, I’m going to finish this thing.’
"We gave him a talk beforehand, and told him, ‘Don’t hold anything back. If you win, great. If you lose, you can always say you did your best.’"
South Summit wrestlers Quinn Hicken and Ty Clegg placed fourth and fifth in their respective weight classes, collecting the other South Summit points at the tournament.
Now Gary Crandall and his coaching staff will enter the rebuilding years after a state title in 2011 and three individual state champions in 2012.
"That’s a tough part of coaching," he said. "It’s always nice to reload, it’s not always nice to rebuild."