There are a few changes in 2012, including new weight divisions. The top four finishers in each weight class earn a trip to the state tournament.
The southern divisional schools have produced a host of champions and championships. In fact, since the small school classification was created 37 years ago, schools from the southern division have brought home the state championship trophy 28 times.
There have been only 16 wrestlers in state history to claim four individual state championships and five of them come from southern division schools.
While there is a strong tradition, three new teams are participating in the tournament. Bryce Valley High School and Diamond Ranch Academy are first time wrestling schools, while Monument Valley High School is fielding a team for the first time in many years.
Monticello High School hopes to claim their sixth straight divisional championship with the tournament on their home mat.
Monticello boasts nine wrestlers who have state tournament experience. Senior leaders with state tournament experience include Tim Ryan and Kellend Brewer.
Defending state champion Brian Robinson is a junior who already has two divisional championships and two state title matches under his belt.
Nephi Barlow is a junior who has claimed the divisional championship in his prior two years of wrestling.
They are joined by returning state runner-up Hunter Bowring and a host of experienced sophomores, including Roque DeAnda, Austin Wilcox, Eric Anderson and Jake Giles.
Buckaroo Coach Kent Adair has earned numerous coach of the year honors at the divisional and state level.
The Buckaroos have claimed eight state championship titles, including a title in 2009 and six in a row in the 1970s.
The Buckaroos claim a four time state champion in Aaron Butler, who is the last Utah wrestler to claim the honor.
In addition, the Bucks have four three-time champions and eight two-time champions, including assistant coach Ron Musselman.
Although the Raiders did not submit a roster before the deadline, we know that the Raiders have done well in the upper weights. Senior Terrell Whitehorse, Junior Colton Lee and Junior Shawn Carter have finished in the top four at the divisional tournament. Between them, they have wrestled five times in the state tournament.
The Raiders are coached by Roger Andreason.
Monument Valley is sponsoring a wrestling team for the first time in many years. Although the boys are new to the 1A ranks this year, their coach has a strong wrestling tradition. Coach Jim Dandy was a two-time state champion for the Cougars in the 1980s.
With a roster brimming with 18 wrestlers, the Panguitch High School Bobcats are planning on a breakout performance at the season-ending tournaments.
The Bobcats are led by four wrestlers who have brought home a medal from the state tournament.
Senior Jory Owens hopes to culminate a stellar high school wrestling career with another deep run at the divisional and state tournaments. Owens is a two-time defending state champion who has also claimed the divisional championship the prior three years. In fact, Owens has lost just one match at the divisional and state levels in high school. He was named the divisional tournament’s most valuable wrestler in 2010.
The Bobcats also boast a returning state champion in junior Cade Coles. Coles finished third at state as a freshman and is the defending 1A champion at 112 pounds.
Sam Vasquez finished in third place at the state tournament last year and Tyler Brinkerhoff finished fourth at 285 pounds.
Senior Bobcats with state tournament experience include Brandon Birch, Paxton Cooper, Kolton Julander, and Austin Josie.
Others with state tournament experience include juniors Jake Beckstead and Garrett Wolfley, and sophomores Max Smith and Donnie Corwin.
Panguitch claimed the state tournament trophy in 1997 and 2000 and have four two-time state champions. They are coached by Mat Houston and assisted by Frank Houston.
In 2012, the Wayne High School Badgers feature a roster of 17 wrestlers, including four wrestlers who have brought home a medal from the state tournament.
Senior Randy Ellett leads the Badgers. Ellett wrestled for the state championship as a sophomore and finished fourth last year. He has wrestled for the divisional title the previous two years.
Seniors Hagan Ekker and Jared Alvey also have earned state hardware, a third place finish for Ekker at 171 pounds and a fourth place finish for Alvey at 189 pounds.
Sophomore Bryan Batty was third at 160 pounds last year. Other Badgers with state tournament experience include junior Colton Roberts, sophomore Brady Foutz, and senior Dusty Johnson.
The Badgers are led by Coach Kerry Anderson, who is the winningest coach in Utah High School wrestling history. Anderson’s teams have claimed 16 state championships, including five in a row in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The Badgers claim four-time state champion Bryant Anderson, nine three-time champions and 17 two-time champions.
The Milford Tigers, with a proud tradition that includes three two-time state champion wrestlers, return nine wrestlers to the divisional tournament.
They are led by junior Tyler Tolman, who finished fourth in the state as a freshman. Tolman has two years of state tournament experience.
Junior Taylon Payne also has state tournament experience.
The Tigers are coached by Jareth Dunne.
The Piute T-Birds have a student body of 112 students, but have one of the strongest wrestling traditions in the state. Piute has a roster of twelve wrestlers, including senior Parker Bagley. Bagley has earned a trip to the state tournament each of his years in high school and claimed a third place finish at state last year. Sophomore Clay Fullmer is the returning divisional champion and finished third at the state tournament last year at 130 pounds.
Sophomore JT Bagley also has state tournament experience.
Piute claims two state team titles (in 1995 and 2002) and three wrestlers who earned four-time state champion status, including Trent Bell, Kyle Bell, and Roger Smith. In addition, the T-Birds have one three-time champion and four two-time state champion wrestlers.
Bryce Valley High School, with a student body of 78 students, is sponsoring a wrestling team for the first time in school history The Mustangs boast a roster with nine wrestlers. However, a wrestler who is not currently in the roster, Payton Johnson, may have received as much attention as anyone in the 1A wrestling ranks this year. Johnson, who has Down’s Syndrome, was the focus of a recent feature story in the Deseret News.
Bryce Valley is coached by Carlon Johnson.
Diamond Ranch Academy is not only a first-year wrestling school, but they are a first-year school in all sports in the Utah High School Activities Association. The private school in Washington County has been operating since 1999 but just began competitive sports programs. With a fresh start, Diamond Ranch is on the way to creating traditions of its own with a roster of 14 wrestlers.
The Diamond Backs are coached by Cody Wardle.
The Escalante Moquis, with a student body of 49 students, are back again after hosting the divisional tournament in 2011. Escalante is led by juniors Brett Brooks and Gus Torgerson. Brooks placed in the divisional tournament as a freshman and a sophomore. Torgerson was the divisional runnerup at 145 pounds last year.
The Moquis are coached by Paul Dodge.