by Tad Barton
For anyone who has ever been a part of a wrestling tournament, you know just how physically and mentally demanding it can be.
Couple that with the fact the tournament also features the best wrestlers in 2A, and you have last weekend’s Utah High School Activities Association State Tournament.
Four Broncos made the journey to the campus of Utah Valley University in Orem on February 10 to make a final run at their championship dreams for the 2016-17 UHSAA wrestling season.
When the final arms were raised on Saturday, junior Grange Simpson had grappled his way to a third place finish in the 160 lb weight class.
Simpson started the tournament off by winning his first two matches over Manti’s Kaden Kirkman (a 10-7 decision) and Kesston Mosher of North Summit (a 6-4 decision).
The two wins advanced Simpson to the semi-final round, where he was defeated by fall to the eventual state champion, Jason Hatch of Delta.
The loss would be his only setback of the tournament, as Simpson went on to win his final two matches to claim the Consolation Championship, placing third. Those wins were both by decision, 7-4 over 2A Division B champ Brady Tullis of Enterprise and a 7-6 win over Hunter Anderson of Millard.
The other three wrestlers from San Juan didn’t fare quite as well, as all three lost their opening matches and were later eliminated from the tournament one round short of the quarter-finals of the consolation bracket.
DJ Howell, who wrestled in the 170 lb class, fell to Troy Jones of Millard, who eventually took second. Howell rallied in his second match, defeating Dalton Broderick of Gunnison by fall to advance.
In his final match of the tournament, Howell lost by fall to Logan Rex of North Summit.
In the 182 lb division, Coleman Black represented San Juan. After four years of dedication and hard work, Black wrestled his final matches as a Bronco. Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned.
An opening round loss to Kyle Perkins of Millard put Black in the consolation bracket, where he won his first match by pinning Millard’s Jake Gates. Black squared off against Alexander Johnson of South Summit who won by fall, ending the tournament for Black.
The final wrestler who competed is Druman Gomez at 220 lbs. Like Howell and Black, Gomez wrestled three matches at the tournament, losing his first to Gordon Hermansen of South Summit by fall, then defeating Kolton Petersen of Gunnison and setting up a matchup with Gage Hansen of Grand, who eventually defeated Gomez.
Congratulations to these young men, their coaches and teammates for a great season, and good luck to them in all they do in the future.
For those of you who didn’t make it to the Bronco’s home finale on Wednesday, February 8 against the Emery Spartans, you not only missed Senior Night for San Juan, but one heck of a basketball game.
The Broncos avenged a lopsided loss the Spartans dealt them back on January 18 in Castle Dale with an impressive 77-69 win. San Juan controlled the game from the opening tip off until the final second ran off the clock.
The win set up a critical game with the Manti Templars on Friday, February 10, a game with post season implications for both squads. Manti needed a win to punch their ticket to the post season while a San Juan win, and a win by Emery over Grand, would guarantee the Broncos a two seed in the first round of the 2A State Championships.
The Broncos came out of the gates a bit slow against the Templars, who raced out to an early lead and continued to shoot the lights out of the gym the rest of the game. San Juan battled back but were forced to foul late in the game in an effort to preserve time.
Manti’s blistering shooting from the field carried over to the charity stripe where they put the game away, defeating the Broncos, 85-69.
Emery did end up beating Grand, which resulted in a two way tie for second place in Region 15.
San Juan’s luck continued on the same path it had been on all night when Grand won the coin toss to decide which team would end up representing the region as the number two team, and which would be the third place representative.
Four Broncos scored in double figures on Senior Night against Emery.
In the first quarter, San Juan outpaced Emery 20-15 and then built on that lead in the second quarter by adding another 19 points, while holding Emery to 17 to take a seven point lead at the half, 39-32.
The Spartans made a run at the Broncos in the third quarter, cutting into the lead by outscoring San Juan 15-12 in the period.
The Broncos answered the challenge by dropping 26 points in the fourth while the Spartans tried to keep pace, finishing with an impressive 22 points of their own. Ultimately, it just wasn’t enough as San Juan handed Emery their first loss in region play and only their second loss of the season, 77-69.
Dylan Ivins led all scorers with 19 points, including four baskets from behind the arc. Jordan Blake finished with 17 points, while Jaden Torgerson and Zach Brown each had 12 points.
Seth Pugh barely missed joining the double-digit scorers, finishing with nine points, the result of making three treys. Jaxon Lee and Landon Pemberton rounded out the scoring for the Broncos with four points each.
In the second game of the week, San Juan was just in the wrong gym at the wrong time, as the Templars finished with six players with 10 or more points and five different players recording at least one three-point basket, 12 three-pointers in all for Manti.
In spite of falling behind early, 24-15 after the first quarter. The Templars hot shooting continued in the second quarter as they scored 20 more points. The Bronco scoring struggles continued, as they scored just 12 points in the second quarter. The end result of the first 16 minutes of play was a 17-point lead for Manti, 44-27.
Down big, San Juan kept fighting, and gained the upper hand in the scoring column in the third quarter, 22-18, to trim the lead to 13 heading into the fourth.
The Broncos would cut the lead to nine points at one point in the fourth quarter, but the Templars were able to push it back to 18.
Once again, San Juan battled back to an 11-point deficit but were running out of time and were forced to foul to stop the clock. Manti only missed one free throw the entire second half and put the game away at the line, bringing about an 85-69 win.
Blake led the Broncos with 19 points, Brown had 14 and Ivins scored 11. Lee and Pugh each finished with nine points, while Jaden Torgerson had six and Jaxon Torgerson chipped in one point in the loss.
San Juan will travel to Orem, UT on Saturday, February 18 to take on Layton Christian in the opening round of the 2A State Basketball Championships. All first round games will be played at Orem High. The Broncos and Eagles tip off at 1:30 p.m.
Like the boys basketball team, the Lady Broncos also split their final two Region 15 games with a loss to Emery on February 7, 70-42, and then defeating the Manti Templars on Friday, February 10 by a score of 61-32.
After a competitive first quarter that found San Juan down by just seven points, 15-8, the Spartans overpowered the Broncos in the second, outscoring San Juan 25-4 to take a 28-point lead at the half, 40-12.
The Broncos more than doubled their score in the third quarter, scoring 14 points in the period. Emery didn’t slow down at all, though, as they poured another 23 points through the basket, increasing their lead to 37, 63-26, to start the fourth.
By the end of the game, San Juan had trimmed the lead back to 28 points by outscoring the Spartans 16-7, leading to a 70-42 final score.
Bodell Nielson and Delaney Palmer led the Broncos with 10 points each. Jordyn Moon scored six points, just ahead of Nizhonii Begaye, who had five points on the night.
Madison Palmer scored three points. Megan Grover, Alexis James and Tasiah Little each had two points. Krystelle Noyes and Lyandra Benn rounded out the scoring with one point each.
San Juan got a little redemption in their season finale against Manti, picking up a 61-32 win over the Templars on Senior Night. The Lady Broncos jumped out to a 10 point lead, 16-6, after one quarter of play.
In the second quarter, San Juan added another five points to their lead by scoring 17 points and holding Manti to 12, making the score 33-18 at the intermission.
Scoring stayed steady for the Broncos in the third quarter, as they posted another 15 points on the scoreboard. San Juan also had a great defensive quarter, only giving up two points to Manti, making the score 48-20 with one quarter left in the game.
The fourth quarter was the closest of the night, but the Broncos once again claimed the advantage, outscoring the Templars 13-12 to claim a 29-point win, 61-32.
Nielson paced San Juan with 12 points, including two three-pointers. Delaney Palmer and Moon each notched nine points, while Noyes finished with eight points.
Grover had seven points, Begaye had four points, and James added three points. Madison Palmer and Ryann Shumway each chipped in two points, as did Little and Benn. Gracee Bowers also got in on the scoring with one point for the Broncos.
San Juan finished third in Region 15 and will play Wasatch Academy at Orem High School at 1:30 p.m. Orem High is located at 175 South 400 East in Orem, UT.