by Tad Barton
San Juan Bronco Grange Simpson finished off his high school wrestling career with an almost storybook ending.
After winning the 3A Division B 170 lb Championship last week, Simpson worked his way to the title match of the Utah High School Activities Association’s 3A State Tournament last Saturday afternoon in Orem, UT.
Simpson began the tournament on Friday, February 9, by defeating Soi Moe of Manti by fall.
In his second match of the tournament, Simpson once again won by fall, this time defeating Dillon Sorenson from Richfield, sending Simpson to the semi-finals, where he would face Wyatt Morrison of South Sevier.
Simpson once again won in dominant fashion, recording a technical fall over Morrison by outscoring him 15-0.
The championship match pitted Simpson against Tanner Shields of Delta. Shields, the 3A Division A Champion, came into the match with only one loss on the season, one state championship (at 160 lbs in 2016), and a third place finish in last year’s 3A State Tournament on his resume.
Halfway through the second round, Simpson’s run was ended when Shields was awarded a technical fall when he went up 19-4 over Simpson.
Simpson’s second place finish is the best finish by a San Juan wrestler in recent years.
Simpson wasn’t the only Bronco representing San Juan at the tournament.
DJ Howell finished fifth at 182 lbs. Howell was 3-2 on the weekend, with wins over Jake Nickle of Delta, Shan Jackson of Juab, and Richard Peck of American Leadership Academy.
San Juan was also represented by six other wrestlers: Matthew Blackhorse at 106 lbs, Ronald Hunt at 113 lbs, Seth Spackman at 126 lbs, Landon Burke at 132 lbs, Maurice Begay at 195 lbs, and Nigel Sam at 220 lbs.
The San Juan boys basketball team entered their final game of the regular season needing a win against the Emery Spartans to guarantee their spot in the post season.
Bronco fans who attended the game or watched the live stream were treated to a fantastic competition between two evenly matched teams.
After trailing for most of the game, San Juan tied the game at 57-57 with less than a minute to play.
Then, with 3.5 seconds left on the clock, Jaden Torgerson stepped up to the free throw line and drained both shots to put San Juan up 59-57.
The Broncos then forced the Spartans to take a desperation shot which missed it’s mark before securing the rebound as time ran out to seal the victory.
The first quarter was all Emery, as the Spartans stormed out to a 20-13 lead. San Juan came to life a bit in the second, keeping pace with Emery but falling further behind when the Spartans outscored the Broncos 19-17 in the period to take a 39-30 lead at the half.
San Juan looked to be in big trouble in the third, as Emery scored the first nine points of the quarter to build an 18-point lead with just three minutes to go in the third.
It was at this point that the Broncos began to make their move, as they finished the quarter on a 9-0 run of their own but still trailed 48-39 heading into the fourth.
Throughout much of the final eight minutes of play, it looked as if the Spartans would hold off the Broncos. Every time San Juan would make a move, Emery would answer. Many times, the Broncos would pull within four or five points, only to have the Spartans rebuild their lead.
The final two minutes was all San Juan, as the Broncos steadily chipped away at the lead before tying the game with seconds left on the clock.
Despite the pressure, and with just over three seconds on the clock, Torgerson sank his first free throw and then his second, giving the Broncos a 59-57 win and a share of fourth place in Region 15.
Jaxon Torgerson led all scorers in the game with 18 points, followed closely by Jaden Torgerson who finished with 17.
Ryan Imlay came off the bench for San Juan and scored nine points. Dylan Ivins and Shaw Nielson each finished with six points, Baylr Eldredge had two, and Seth Pugh finished with one point.
San Juan will now travel to Heber City, UT for an Inter-region Play-in game to be played at Wasatch High School. The Broncos will go in as the fifth seed from Region 15 and play the top seed from Region 14, the Delta Rabbits. The game is scheduled to tip off at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 17.
The Lady Broncos basketball team also finished up their Region 15 schedule this past week. A 75-49 loss to Emery on Thursday, February 7 made the Broncos season finale with Grand a bit more interesting, as San Juan entered that match-up with a one game lead over the Red Devils for fourth place.
After a rough start to the game, the Broncos came from behind to beat Grand 66-51 and secure a fourth-place finish in region play.
It was a tale of two halves in Castle Dale on Thursday night, as San Juan managed to keep pace with Emery in the first half. Both teams had success on the offensive side of the court in the first quarter with the Spartans claiming the upper-hand, outscoring the Broncos 20-16 to open the game.
In the second quarter, San Juan again played tough, keeping things close but fell a bit further behind being outscored by Emery 15-9 in the second, resulting in a ten-point lead at the half for the Spartans, 35-25.
In the third, Emery really put some distance between themselves and San Juan, adding another eleven points to their lead, scoring 21 while holding the Broncos to ten points.
Heading into the fourth, San Juan trailed Emery 56-35. The Spartans finished the game off by once again outscoring the Broncos in the fourth, 19-14, resulting in a 75-49 final.
Needing a win on Saturday to hold onto fourth place outright, the Broncos welcomed the Grand County Red Devils to Blanding for Senior night.
Grand started the game off by jumping out to a 6-0 lead, finishing off the first quarter with a 16-10 lead over San Juan. The Broncos struggles to score continued into the second quarter, as they managed just eight points while the Red Devils added another ten to their total to take a 26-18 lead at halftime.
It looked like San Juan might be in trouble when Grand opened the second half by building their lead to 16 points before the Broncos came fighting back. San Juan finished off the third quarter by outscoring Grand 21-11 and taking their first lead of the game, 39-37.
The fourth quarter was all Broncos, as the home team poured on another 27 points and held the Red Devils to 14 points and piced up a 66-51 win.
Bodell Nielson finished with a team high 18 points and Delaney Palmer scored eleven. Tasiah Little had nine, all from beyond the arc.
Brittany Grover netted eight points, Lyandra Benn had six, Ryann Shumway scored five, Kattie Giddings had four, Kelesha Gray had three and Madi Palmer finished with two points for the Broncos.
The Lady Broncos will play their Inter-region Play-in Game on Friday, February 16 at Wasatch High School in Heber City, UT. They will face off against Judge Memorial with the game slated for an 11:50 a.m. start.