High school wrestling is often referred to as an individual sport. Last week, 14 individual wrestling champions were crowned in five classifications and young athletes from across the state stood alone atop the podium to claim their individual glory.
But at the end of a night of individuals, five teams earn the honor of being crowned team champions. It’s not an easy feat to be the top team in any classification.
Monticello High School is no stranger to the coveted team trophy, having won it six times in the 1970’s and for a seventh time in 1986. Over the past 23 years, 27 wrestlers from Monticello High School have stood atop the podium and been crowned as champions. While many great athletes have passed through what MHS wrestlers affectionately refer to as “the room”, not once in 23 years has a MHS team earned the crown jewel of Utah wrestling, the coveted team trophy. Not until last Saturday night.
The MHS Buckaroo wrestlers, all 15 of them, stood together atop the podium and claimed the well deserved honor of 2009 State Wrestling Champions. It’s a victory made even sweeter knowing that the Buckaroos actually earned enough points to win the title even before the finals were wrestled.
While they didn’t need an individual champion, they ended up with three. Seniors Jesse Barton and Reed Steele, and Junior Adam Martinez all earned champion medals on this night.
In what many thought would be a much closer race, and few thought Monticello could win, the Buckaroo team put together a nearly perfect state tournament.
The Bucks finished with 212.5 points, a significant margin over second place Altamont, with 171 points. Altamont had long been considered the front runner for the team trophy. Duchesne rounded out the top three with 148.
The win is made even more significant when you consider that Monticello has only 15 wrestlers on the team. It is a small program in the state of Utah, when you consider that several 1A teams having twice as many wrestlers.
In the 1A ranks, numbers mean everything. And despite not having the numbers as far as team members go, the Buckaroos put together the right combination. There were only 15 members on the team, but 14 qualified to wrestle at state, 12 earned individual medals, and seven wrestled for the title.
No member of the team had a glamorous record, with only one returning state champion, and most didn’t win a tournament all year, but their preparation came together at the right time, in the right place. This championship was teamwork in the truest sense of the word.
At the end of the day, the other 1A coaches recognized the significance of what the Buckaroos accomplished, and awarded Coach Kent Adair the 1A Coach of the Year Award.
The Bucks started out with an 18-point lead after round one, built when the Bucks went 13-1 in the round, with 12 wins by fall. The falls were crucial in scoring the necessary points to win the championship. In round two, seven Bucks earned wins and made it through to the finals.
Senior Reed Steele won the first championship of the night for the Bucks at 135 pounds when he pinned his opponent early in the third period. Steele earned wins by fall and a major decision in the early rounds.
Adam Martinez followed with a state title of his own at 145 pounds. Martinez won all three matches by fall, including an exciting third period pin in the final. Martinez began the season weighing 135 pounds, but wrestled up two weight classes for the Bucks.
Senior Jesse Barton was ecstatic with his state championship win, avenging a heartbreaking loss in the championship his Junior year. Barton was impressive throughout the tournament, earning all three wins by fall, with two under 30 seconds. His 27 second pin in the championship match was the fastest win in the finals in all five classifications.
Four other Buckaroos earned the chance to wrestle on the center mat for a championship, and earned second place medals in their weight classes.
David Boyle, lost a heart breaker 2-0 in the final, but had an exciting 8-3 win in the semi finals and a first round pin.
Coltan Musselman was defeated 7-3 in the finals, but earned his spot after an impressive 8-6 win in a semi final match with four overtime periods.
CJ Cordasco was impressive for the Bucks, earning a first period pin and 7-1 win in the early rounds.
Chase Randall rounded out the Buckaroos in the finals. Randall was defeated in the final, but scored big for the Bucks in early rounds, earning wins by fall and technical fall.
It is often said that championships are won in the consolation finals and it was no different this year.
Five Buckaroos stayed alive in the semi-final round, with Ricky Wilcox, Rhett Adair, Tyrel Shupe and Tazz Robinson all earning wins by fall, and Gabe Beh picking up a big 10-3 win.
Heading into the consolation final round, the Bucks were still within the reach of Altamont, but Monticello went 4-1, with Wilcox, Beh, Adair, and Robinson all earning wins by fall and third place medals and putting the Bucks safely out of everyone’s reach in the race for the title. The efforts of Tyrel Shupe were big for the Bucks, as he earned a fourth place medal.
Nolan Black did not place for the Bucks, but earned a key win, 10-8, in the first round over Altamont. Black also set a new MHS record for reversals in a season. Team members Caleb Bailey and Ivan Rodriguez also shared in the glory of the team championship.
Coach Kent Adair was all smiles Saturday night, as this was his first team championship as head coach of the Bucks. Adair is proud of his team, praising them for working hard all year. “They wrestled well at the tournament, and that every match, even those resulting in a loss, was a great match.”