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West Valley City Journal

Junior high wrestlers take to the mat

Apr 03, 2017 11:33AM ● By Greg James

Hunter Junior High seventh grader Toby Chapman and Kennedy’s Terrance Giles wrestled in the Granite School District 7-8 tournament, Giles won the match 8-2. (Greg James/City Journals)

By Greg James |  [email protected]

Hunter High School rolled out the wrestling mats to host the Granite School District seventh- and eighth- grade junior high wrestling championships. Westlake Junior High’s Bethany Gardner took her place on the sidelines and readied herself for her match.

“I have been wrestling since fourth grade. Now I am in seventh and I am still wrestling,” Gardner said as she waited for her turn on the mat. “I am more of a tomboy than a girly girl. I like to work out and play sports like soccer and softball. I like wrestling and I am pretty sure I can beat them.”

Gardner faced Taylor Pixton from Matheson Junior High in the first round, an escape put her in good position but a quick reversal and takedown by Pixton led to a near-fall and an 11-2 victory. 

“The boys do not treat me any different. It is all about being tough,” Gardner said.

Gardner won in the next round because of an injury and finished third in the 190 lb. weight class.

Granite School District separated schools without ninth graders for its interscholastic sports programs last year. This change has led to a decrease in the number of athletes in wrestling meets.

At the tournament, 81 wrestlers competed for seven teams in 16 weight classes.

“When the freshmen were pulled out, the district started having two championships in all junior high sports. Honestly, it is not too much different (number of participants) if you add both tournaments together. The lower and higher weights always had lower numbers. This is the nice thing about the junior high programs is that it gets kids interested in the sport. There are camps and clubs for all ages,” Hunter wrestling head coach Terry Allen said.

In February, the Granite School District changed the rules to allow girls to wrestle in the same division as the boys.

“It was perfect timing for these kids, and I see several girls out competing. We have a couple of girls that are interested,” Allen said.

Matheson Junior High won the overall team championship, scoring 242 points. Kennedy Junior High was second with 180, followed by Bonneville (126), Westlake (109), Hunter Junior High (55), Jefferson Junior High (36) and Kearns (35).

First place individual winners included; Karter Sandquist (Hunter Jr.), Anthony Chacon (Westlake), Dallin Marionos (Bonneville), Camdon Ketchum (Mattheson), Xavier Burtlet (Kennedy), Maea Gile (Kennedy), Taygen Esplin (Kennedy), Luke Rucket (Mattheson), Jh’dhan Lester (Mattheson), Dakota Garreaud (Mattheson), Zarrin Workman (Kennedy), Brena Lli (Kennedy) and Kennedy Tabile (Westlake).

Longtime Kennedy head coach Mark Mcomber is retiring following this season. He runs an intramural program before the regular season to help prepare his athletes.

“We have some kids that wrestle club and some that are brand new. When they get to the competition it is brand new to these kids. Next year we hope to change to a more dual meets. I have seen some of these kids really improve. Having girls involved is helping. If they show up and want to wrestle we will train with them just the same,” Mcomber said.