OREM -- Viewmont High senior Patrick Welch just finished his first and only season as a wrestler. Welch chose to go out for the Viewmont wrestling team at the encouragement of friend and teammate Derek Wesche.
"Derek bugged me and said they needed another 103 pounder so I came out," Welch said.
Four months later, Welch was a factor in the Vikings' Region 1 and 5A state championships.
"It's pretty cool because I know I helped do this for the team and my school," he said.
Welch wasn't the only unique member of the Viewmont team to pick up points. At 112, junior Kenji Sato finished sixth, Wesche (another JV wrestler) was sixth in the state tournament.
"As a JV wrestler there were times when I'd get frustrated and discouraged, but I knew if I kept training hard good things would happen," Wesche said. "This is a great feeling."
Juniors Ikeru Abe (130) and Ron Wyman (285) and sophomore Mitch Rasmussen (135) came through after dropping a tough semi-final losses to pick up a 5th places.
"These guys are amazing," Viewmont Head Coach Brandon Ripplinger said. "Seeing guys like Patrick who never wrestled before turn it on and come here on this stage and pick up a point and finish as one of the top 12 in the state is amazing."
"Ikeru, Ronnie and Mitch all dropped tough matches in the semi-finals and they came back and picked up points even though they were disappointed about losing in the semi-finals."
As a JV 160-pounder, senior Adam Bevalas didn't allow a chronic shoulder injury to dampen his spirits.
"If I could be in the room every day helping the other guys prepare for state then it was all worth it," he said.
Bevalas qualified for state by placing at Region. Mike Winger (119), Moroni Redd (152) , Danner Kjar (145), Andrew Kimber (145) Sean Young (152), and Hayden White (215) also earned trips to the state tournament.
Viewmont was the only team to score at least one point in every weight class.
"Because it was so close anyone who helped in any way was vital to our success," Riplinger said. "There are plenty of others who didn't score this year, but will in the future. We have a great team coming back."
Ripplinger noted the support he has received as a first-year coach has helped through the tough times.
"Viewmont is a great place," he said. "It means a lot to me and the team to look up in the stands and see Jeff Emery and Brad Christensen (Viewmont basketball coaches) and the student body officers and all of those parents and the people from our community who don't have kids on the team anymore still supporting us. Viewmont is a very unique place."
Ripplinger noted the perspective his team has as another reason for its success.
"We love wrestling because it's unique in that it's so personal, but there's such a team aspect here," Ripplinger said. "Each guy pulls for one another and I think it helps with guys like a Patrick Welch who was brand new because everyone was there to help him all year. There are not a lot of egos here in this group of kids. They don't panic. They pull for one another and they believe in each other and I think that perspective and approach made this championship possible."