All-Star Dual, Pleasant Grove’s title win among Utah Valley’s top wrestling stories

December 31, 2018
Maika Tauteoli, of Pleasant Grove, has one of his legs held by Chase Trussell, of Morgan, during the Utah All-Star Dual on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, at the UCCU Center in Orem. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Taking a look at back at 2018, these were the top 10 wrestling stories for Utah County:

10: Provo High held its 9th Annual Wrestling Against Cancer Duals. This year, nine teams competed in six duals. Westlake was the big winner, defeating both Skyridge and Corner Canyon in back-to-back duals. In other results, Provo defeated rival Timpview, West beat American Leadership Academy (ALA) but was defeated by Skyridge, while Layton topped Maple Mountain. More important than the results was that the event raised $600 to help a local family battling cancer.

9: Westlake’s Jacob Finlinson won the school’s first-ever individual state title when the Thunder grappler defeated Pleasant Grove’s Zeke Kelley, 14-5. Both Finlinson and Kelley are actually good friends off the mat as both started wrestling at a young age in a youth program ran by Kelley’s father, Cole.

8: Wasatch and Maple Mountain placed third and fourth respectively at the 2018 Rockwell Rumble hosted at the Utah Valley University UCCU Event Center. The Rumble, as it is more often called, featured 79 teams and 868 wrestlers. Wasatch’s Stockton O’Brien and Zak Kohler and Maple Mountain’s Brandyn Van Tassell all won individual titles as Windsor, out of Colorado, became the first non-Utah team to take home the team trophy at The Rumble.

7: Utah Valley University is off to a strong start to the 2018-19 campaign currently ranked at No. 22 in the country. Individually, the Wolverines have six ranked wrestlers in the top 25 with two wrestlers ranked eighth (Demetrius Romero at 165 pounds and heavyweight Tate Orndorff), 10th-ranked Matt Findlay (141 pounds), 13th-ranked Tanner Orndorff (197), No. 17-ranked Kimball Bastian (174) and 23rd-ranked Will Sumner (184). The nationally ranking is impressive considering that the Wolverines are battling without their top returning wrestler, Taylor LaMont, who was lost to the season due to injury. As a redshirt freshman last year, LaMont finished in the top 12 at the NCAA meet, just one match away from All-American status.

6: ALA reinstated its program and Quenton Mortimer became the school’s second-ever state champion and first since the program was brought back to life with former Utah Valley University wrestler Tucker Ray at the controls. This season ALA will actually have three all-star dual participants with Mortimer and his sister Sage, along with Lukus Carrillo.

5: Payson placed third in the 4A state meet as Cole Jensen and Wyatt Monroe won state titles for the Lions. Jensen returns for the 2018-19 campaign. Salem Hills’ Justin Martin and Orem’s Cooper Legas also won 4A state titles.

4: Maple Mountain’s Brandyn Van Tassell won his second straight state title to go along with a runner-up finish as a sophomore to help lead his team to a third place finish at the 5A state tournament. The Golden Eagle star was named as the Utah Valley Wrestler of the Year. Van Tassell is currently serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and upon return is expected to wrestle for the University of Nebraska.

3: Viewmont ended Wasatch’s dominance in 5A wrestling as the Vikings took home the gold trophy. Wasatch still crowned five individual champions with Mitchel Slack, Sammy Heywood, Stockton O’Brien, Zak Kohler and DJ Cohen. All but Cohen return for the 2018-19 campaign, giving the Wasps an excellent chance to get back on top. It should also be noted that O’Brien and Kohler recently finished third at the Reno Tournament of Champions earning All-American status.

2: Pleasant Grove got back on top again taking down the 6A title. Layton had won the 2017 ending a long run of Pleasant Grove dominance, but the Viking depth won out last season. Cole Zorn and Maika Tauteoli won individual titles for the Vikings.

1: The All-Star Dual, won by the 4A, featured a new twist with matches pairing female wrestlers against each other. Three local wrestlers competed with Maple Mountain’s Hailey Cox, Springville’s Marlynne Deede and ALA’s Sage Mortimer. Cox and Deede emerged as winners. Later in the season, Mortimer would place third wrestling against the boys at the 3A state meet. But Mortimer wasn’t done as she placed seventh at the USA Wrestling Cadet Nationals (14- and 15-year-olds) this past summer, becoming the first female wrestler ever to place in the boy’s division.

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