BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
BOUNTIFUL – The Bountiful Braves wrestling team won’t have a single grappler who placed in the top six of the 4A state tournament back on the team when the season begins.
They will, however, return a bulk of players that qualified for the state tournament last season. It’s a plus for coach Matt Ripplinger, who admitted that building the wrestling team into what it is today wasn’t easy.
“When I first coached here, we had three or four kids who actually had wrestling experience and the rest were on the team because they thought wrestling was a fun sport to try,” he said. “This year, about 95 percent of the wrestlers we’ll get have been wrestling since they were in seventh grade. It’s definitely a different atmosphere around here.”
The biggest accomplishment before the Braves even hit the mat will be the depth. Although some weight classes have yet to be filled at the junior varsity level, Ripplinger said the amount of varsity depth is now as strong as it has been in a while.
“The funny thing is we finally have a person wrestling at 106 pounds, and now we don’t have a 113-pound wrestler,” said Ripplinger. “But we’re filling out all the varsity spots with some good names.”
One of those spots likely already filled will be at 152 pounds. Lamar Gimmeson, a returning state qualifier, who is expected to have a great season.
“He’s one of those seniors that you know will have a great season,” said Ripplinger. “People are expecting him to do well because he wrestled so well last year.”
Another grappler that could turn heads is Jeff Adams, who will wrestle at either 138 or 145 pounds this season. Adams is listed near the top of the preseason rankings, and has worked very hard during the off-season to get better.
Brad Dyer, at 126 pounds, was a finalist at the Rockwell Tournament and was in the Region 6 finals last season.
“He’s looking really good,” said Ripplinger. “I like the way he wrestles, and he’s been doing everything to get better.”
Zach Walker, a junior who will wrestle at 120 pounds, brings with him “a lot of good experience,” said Ripplinger. Walker went to the Western Regional tournament, and was a spot away from placing on the podium.
At the upper echelon of the weight classes, Lee Freestone is said to be a good wrestler due to his strength and size. Freestone is expected to wrestle at 285 pounds.
Ripplinger’s 106-pound wrestler will come in the form of Jono Kimmings. A sophomore, Kimmings was in the district finals during an earlier tournament.
Ripplinger admitted, however, that the region will be a little tougher to go through due to the addition of two new schools in Kearns and Judge Memorial.
“The region tournament is pretty much a numbers game,” he said. “Usually if you have the numbers, you have the best chance at taking a lot of players to the state tournament. Clearfield and Highland will be tough, of course, and Cyprus will be tough too.”
He still expects the Braves to do well, however.
“Our goals are to continue to improve,” he said. “They’ve been working hard this off-season, so we’ll see how well we do.”