HEBER CITY — A team state championship avoided the Box Elder High boys wrestling team in 2021, but the Bees still had plenty to cheer about at Thursday’s 5A state tournament at Wasatch High School.
They had five wrestlers win individual titles: Jackson Ricks (113 pounds), Bridger Ricks (120), Caleb Marx (170), Lucas Cochran (195) and Kellen Collier (285).
“It feels pretty good, a little bit, it was kind of a shot to the heart that I didn’t get four my freshman year, but I mean I’m pretty happy with it,” said Cochran, an Air Force commit who won his third state title.
Marx had arguably the most dramatic of the wins: a third-period comeback after trailing Alta’s Gabe Barraza 9-2 at one point.
Marx, trailing 9-4, got a takedown and a nearfall to tie the match up, then won it with a takedown with 10 seconds left after Barraza escaped to go up 10-9.
Collier, in the first period of sudden-death overtime, pinned Mountain View’s Christopher Esparza to conclude a dramatic, tightly contested match.
Bridger Ricks, earlier in the night, stayed on the path to becoming yet another four-time state champ in the state of Utah.
“There’s not a better feeling than winning a state title, you know? This is what we train our whole season for,” Bridger Ricks said. “It’s been my dream my whole childhood to be a four-time state champ. Obviously I’m not there yet but I’m on the path and I’m happy about that.”
When all is said and done, the Ricks family could end up with 11 individual state championships.
Bridger’s older brother Garrett, a 2018 BEHS alumnus now wrestling at Western Wyoming, won three state titles. Bridger himself has three and his freshman younger brother, Jackson, won his first state title Thursday with a 4-1 decision at 113 pounds.
Bridger Ricks said he’s happy the season happened in the first place, given the two-week pause back in the fall that delayed the start of winter sports. He said he’s also happy with how the team wrestled this season, even though the Bees finished in second behind Payson.
Speaking of the Lions, they had wrestlers place in the top six in 11 of the 14 weight classes, clinching a team state championship at Wasatch High a year after a very close loss in last year’s tournament to Wasatch itself.
Payson was well out in front of both the Wasps and Bees before the sun went down, but that didn’t mean there was no drama to be had in the finals.
Viewmont’s Karson Rees delivered maybe the most stunning result of the tournament, winning the 132 final with a 6-5 decision at nearly the final stroke of the clock. Rees led Payson’s Deegan Palmer 4-3 with just 15 seconds left in the match when Palmer scored a reversal with 10 seconds left, seemingly clinching the match.
Or so everyone but Rees thought. Rees himself somehow whipped around Palmer and scored a reversal of his own with just three seconds left in the match.
When the final buzzer sounded, Rees dropped to his knees, took off his headgear and stared at the scoreboard in absolute silence and disbelief while the Viking faithful roared in the background.
106: Aaron Garcia (Payson) def. Jake Waddoups (Farmington) by fall (2:40)
113: Jackson Ricks (Box Elder) def. Gable Stoddard (Mountain View) by decision, 4-1
120: Bridger Ricks (Box Elder) def. Heath Clyde (Wasatch) by decision, 9-4
132: Karson Rees (Viewmont) def. Deegan Palmer (Payson) by decision, 6-5
138: Colton Erickson (Woods Cross) def. Bryson Lloyd (Wasatch) by decision, 7-2
152: Moses Espinoza-Owens (Viewmont) def. Rylan Stevens (Mountain Ridge) by decision, 9-3
160: Marcus Espinoza-Owens (Viewmont) Jaden Strange (Mountain Ridge)
170: Caleb Marx (Box Elder) def. Gabe Barraza (Alta) by decision, 11-10
195: Lucas Cochran (Box Elder) def. Mason Hulme (Wasatch) by fall (2:55)
285: Kellen Collier (Box Elder) def. Christopher Esparza (Mountain View) by fall (8:30), a sudden-death victory