Ten placers not enough to upset Delta in the end
After the 3A Wrestling State Tournament came to a close and Delta High School again took home the state title, Payson Head Coach Chris Loveless told his boys not to hang their heads.
“Walk out with your heads up,” he told them as they received the runner-up trophy for their efforts on the mat Friday and Saturday.
Delta, the favorite to win the championship, squeaked past the Lions on Saturday to secure a 226 to 215 team victory. The depth of the Rabbits’ team proved the key to their title run as they placed 14 wrestlers over the weekend, but only took home one individual championship (Ryan Petersen (182)).
Payson, on the other hand, managed to win three individual titles – Jed Mellen (132), Zac Loveless (138), Cole Ford (145) – but lost a handful of key matches that could have swung the points their way and possibly to victory.
Mellen, who secured another title for himself, felt that his team let a winnable tournament slip through their hands. “Had some kids that lost a couple of matches that they shouldn’t have,” said Mellen. “It happens, but if we would’ve just won a couple more matches we would have had it.”
Mellen had a technical win in his title match against Cedar’s Kolby Lloyd.
Cole Ford (145), a senior Lion, won his first state title on Saturday and had mixed emotions about the tournament overall. “We’re definitely not satisfied with second,” he said Saturday night. His final match-up was a dominant effort against Juab’s Dalton Harmon where he was able to take Harmon down twice in the match. Coach Loveless praised Ford for his efforts.
“Cole was able to get his first state championship this year, very very well deserved,” said the coach.
Ford has placed for four years straight and, according to Loveless has “been one of the toughest kids in the state for four years.”
His work finally paid off.
Payson’s third individual title went to Zac Loveless (138), who won his third individual state title. Last year Loveless lost his only finals match in overtime, making this year’s championship that much sweeter.
The biggest upset of the night came to Payson’s top-ranked Mitch Brown, who went into the tournament with three individual titles and was positioned to be the first Lion to ever take home four titles. It wasn’t meant to be, however, as Brown lost an early lead in his finals match against Morgan Sweat of Wasatch. Brown claimed the runner-up spot for the first time in his career with Payson.
The coach had nothing but praise for Brown after the tournament, putting him at the top of the list of great wrestlers from Payson.
“Obviously Mitch had a tough match,” said Loveless. “He had a chance to do something that’s never happened here. I sure would’ve loved to have seen him do it, he deserves it. Great kid, he’s worked hard and been a huge part of our program. Arguably the best to ever come out of Payson High School and certainly one of the best.”
With ten placers and five wrestlers who went to the finals matches, Payson has no reason to hang their heads. They’ll hang a banner instead.
On a different day, Payson could have possibly walked out of that tournament as the champions. Loveless talked about how close they were.
“If they could do that tournament again it could have a different outcome,” he said. “But Delta showed up and wrestled well.”
The whole wrestling team was given a police escort atop one of the Payson Fire Department’s ladder trucks through town to celebrate their trophy.
Jed Mellen (132) – 1st Place
Zac Loveless (138) – 1st Place
Cole Ford (145) – 1st Place
Mitch Brown (126) – 2nd Place
Dalton Judd (195) – 2nd Place
Kaelen Loveless (160) – 3rd Place
Devan Judd (182) – 4th Place
Riley Loveless (113) – 5th Place
Will Ford (152) – 6th Place
Derek Johnson (220) – 6th Place