Alta wrestler brings home third state title
An Alta High junior recently completed his quest for a third straight state championship for the Hawks wrestling team.
Matt Findlay finished the 2012-13 wrestling campaign undefeated in Utah matches, and had only one loss to his record this season. That loss came on a decision to a California wrestler in the championship round of the Reno Tournament of Champions, held in December.
“He has been undefeated in the state of Utah for a long time,” Alta coach Barry Harrington said. “He has a wrestler’s mind and work ethic.”
Findlay charged onto the Alta scene as a 106-lb. freshman, compiling a 46-3 record and his first state 5A championship. He followed it with a 53-1 record and a second state title as a 113-lb. sophomore.
This year he moved up two more weight classes to 126 lbs.while still keeping his eye on the third championship. He began his run for the title with a first round pin of Taylorsville’s Justin Conrad at the state championships, held at Utah Valley University.
The pin was followed by two more decision victories to land him in the championship round with Antonio Meikel of Kearns. Findlay took an 8-0 decision over Meikel to take the title.
But Alta wasn’t just a one-man show this year.
“We had some good wrestlers in the lower weight classes, the upper weight classes, and even in the middle,” Harrington said.
In all, the Hawks sent eight wrestlers to the state 5A championships. Sophomore Greg Lamb managed a third-place finish after being bumped out of the championship round in his second match. He came back with a decision victory and two pins to finish in third in the 132-lb. weight class.
The other state wrestlers for Alta included Taz Heath, Chase Westerlind, Zac Tovey, Maverick Stoedler, Davit Frndzhyn and Alex Ravarino. None were able to advance more than a couple rounds, however.
“But just getting to state meet is a big deal for the wrestlers this year with the new format,” Harrington said.
Beginning this season, rather than each region sending its top two or three wrestlers per weight class, the 5A state brackets were decided by two divisional meets. All varsity wrestlers were invited to compete in one of the meets, and the top eight wrestlers from each divisional made up the 16-person bracket at the state meet.
Alta had several good wrestlers that weren’t able to make it out of the divisional meet. They included junior heavyweight wrestler Dallas Walker. He made it to the state consolation finals last year as a freshman, and helped the Hawks during dual meets this year.
“He provided us a good anchor on the top end of our team,” Harrington said.
Also at the upper weight classes were Jadon Johnson and Maverick Stoedter. Johnson handled the 220-lb. class while Stoedter wrestled at 195. Both are juniors this year.
Picking up the load this year in the middle weights were seniors Dakota Kener and Will Kilpack. Kener made it to the semi-finals last year at 139 lbs. and moved up to 145 this year. Kilpack finished third at state last year in the 145- lb. class. He moved up to the 152-lb. weight class.
“They gave us a lot of experience and stability in the middle weight classes,” Harrington said.