State wrestling: 3 champs from southern Utah crowned

Desert Hills' Liam Williams (in black) won state at 170, 3A State Wrestling Tournament, Orem, Utah, Feb. 11, 2017 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News

OREM – Southern Utah schools produced three state champions Saturday at the 3A State Wrestling Tournament at the UCCU Center at UVU.

Desert Hills’ Ryker Boyce (white) gets his picture taken on the winner’s podium. He won the 106-pound division as a freshman, 3A State Wrestling Tournament, Orem, Utah, Feb. 11, 2017 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News

Desert Hills freshman Ryker Boyce (43-4, 106-pound class), returning Thunder state champ Liam Williams (41-2, 170), and Canyon View’s Brandon Lowry (50-3, 126) each won state championships in their respective weight classes.

Traditional powerhouse Juab took the team crown at the 3A classification, with the Wasps getting state champs in four different weight classes and placing a top three finisher in four more of the categories. Juab finished with 242.5 team points, well ahead of second-place Bear River (204.0), third-place Morgan (168.5) and fourth-place Desert Hills (165.5).

Other Region 9 competitors also produced a strong showing as Hurricane’s Caleb Armstrong, Pine View’s Ben Worlton, Desert Hills’ Chance Bundy, Brady Jones and Byron Anderson and Cedar’s Quaid Murray and Daniel Jordan, who all placed second overall in their respective weight classes.

Canyon View’s Brandon Lowry, 3A State Wrestling Tournament, Orem, Utah, Feb. 11, 2017 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News

Boyce beat fellow freshman Connor Ingram of Juab 9-2 in the finale, and while Boyce’s freshmen title may have come as a surprise as he struggled last week during divisionals, coaches and teammates weren’t surprised. Teammate Williams, who was expected to win a title this year, said his path to the finals was harder and seemed unlikely at times due to recent sickness and injury.

Boyce, who placed second at the divisional tournament in Nephi last week, won his match by decision 9-2 over Juab’s Conner Ingram. Thunder head coach Ryan Pace had nothing but praise for the underclassman.

“Ryker got after it,” Payne said. “He is a growing kid and you have to maintain weight and that is not easy to do and he kept his mind right and he did a great job and redeemed himself from last week and won it where it counted.”

Boyce said it’s been a dream of his since preschool to wrestle for a state title.

“It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was little, to work to get myself to the finals someday. ” he said. “My dad got me into wrestling ever since I was a preschooler and we would come up and watch (state). It was the best feeling in the world to win today. This has been my whole goal and I have been working as hard as I can at practice and giving extra and doing pushups, sit-ups and running outside of practice. I’ll be looking for more next year. I just wanted to get here and win my state title.”

Liam WIlliams won state at 170, 3A State Wrestling Tournament, Orem, Utah, Feb. 11, 2017 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News

Williams, who will graduate this year, got his second state championship as he beat Joey Aagard in a rubber match by decision, 8-1. Williams said this year was a much more difficult journey to the finals than his championship run last year.

“I have wrestled him a couple of times this year,” Williams said. “I always had a little bit on him in our previous matches, but I was nervous coming in. I had a hard way to the finals and I have been really low on weight and I am just happy to be here and do it again. I was 13 pounds under and everyone else was big and solid up there. Last year I was in better shape because I didn’t have as harsh of an injury and so I was coming in here conditioned really full and this year with my knee injury and just kind of being sick and stuff it’s been a lot more struggles. This feels way more content because it was harder than last year.”

Williams reflected on his wrestling career.

“When the adrenaline is pumping and the crowd is screaming, I just love being out there in the spotlight,” he said. “It’s cool coming in here and it felt crazier and like there were even more people this year. It’s weird to be here at the end of senior season and all of us seniors have been talking about it, but it’s over. It’s fun and good. I am kind of happy it’s over, but I am going to miss it probably by next week. I am just so happy about the turn out of my senior year and my goals.”

Hurricane’s Caleb Armstrong (left), 3A State Wrestling Tournament, Orem, Utah, Feb. 11, 2017 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News

Pace said the example of his players will influence players for years to come.

“They are good kids,” Pace said. “They are fun and I wish I could have them all back. We hope that the work ethic and culture they created will continue on in the room in the years to come.”

Of course, there were disappointments on the day. At 113 pounds, Jared Viramontes of Desert Hills had to settle for fourth place after suffering an injury.

Caleb Armstrong of Hurricane made it to the finals at 126 pounds, but was defeated in a close finale 5-2 by Juab’s Jayce Lind. Armstrong beat Lind two weeks ago at divisionals 9-5.

Lowry and Worlton staged an epic battle at 132 pounds, with Lowry finally getting a pin at the 2:42 mark. Lowry also pinned Worlton in the finale of the divisional meet.

Hurricane’s Caden Armstrong placed first at divisionals at 138 pounds, but the northern contingent of wrestlers at that weight were strong and Armstrong finished in fifth place.

At 145 pounds, Bundy and Bear River wrestler Kaygen Canfield dueled to a near stalemate, with Canfield finally coming away with the state title on a 4-2 decision.

Perhaps the closest finale of the tourney was at 152 pounds, where Bear River’s Cooper Skinner edged out Jones of D-Hills 9-8. Jones lost to teammate Williams in last year’s championship match.

At 182 pounds, DH’s Anderson lost to undefeated Morgan wrestler Owen Pentz by fall at 1:39.

Murray, from Cedar, made it all the way to the finals, but was no match for Ashton Seely of Juab and fell by a 19-9 major decision.

Cedar’s Jordan battled hard at the heavyweight (285) category, eventually falling 5-4 to Juab’s Dylan White.

The 3A Academic All-State wrestlers were honored as well: Zackary Showell, Bear River; Hunter Holt, Desert Hills; Brady Jones, Desert Hills; Bronco Cloward, Grantsville; Kristopher Allred, Richfield; Colton Davis, Snow Canyon; Devon Leavitt, Snow Canyon; Seth Rodgers, Snow Canyon; Joshua Larsen, Stansbury, and Shunzhang Chen, Tooele.

Full tournament results can be obtained here.

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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