BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
BOUNTIFUL – When it comes to high school wrestling in the 5A class, there are a lot of teams that can be looked at as a threat to win the state title.
The Viewmont Vikings are no different; however, have slightly regressed in the past two years.
“You look at teams like Pleasant Grove, Syracuse and Layton, who are those really strong teams,” said Vikings’ coach Brandon Ripplinger, “and you know you’re going to have to earn your stripes. (The) 5A (class) is getting tougher to get through now.”
However, the team will still have a strong group of players that will return to the mat this season, and will be looked upon to guide the Vikings to a strong finish.
The first of the returnees is Taylor Porath, who will wrestle at 106 pounds for his senior season.
“He did win some big tournaments during the season, so he won’t be overlooked,” said Ripplinger. “He’s a tough wrestler.”
David Kim, another returnee, will wrestle at either 126 pounds or 132 pounds, and had a solid year by placing fifth in the state tournament and fourth at super state.
Both Porath and Kim, said Ripplinger, have a good chance at getting to super state.
Luke Gibbs and Alex Graham, both seniors, are a pair of “really dedicated” players that will help the team this season as well.
One possible under-the-radar wrestler this season will be Andy Monreal, who will wrestle at 120 pounds this season. Though he bounced around from junior varsity to varsity last season, Ripplinger praised Monreal as “ridiculously coachable” and “has fun and loves” to wrestle.
“He’s a solid wrestler, and loves being coached,” he said. “He may medal in some tournaments, but he loves to wrestle. He’s just one of those kids you just want to root for during any tournament.”
One of the biggest measuring sticks to the team’s success this season will be its own tournament, the Viewmont Invitational, which will be held at the Legacy Events Center in Farmington due to its growth in popularity over the years.
“It’s probably the best measuring stick because it’s such a big tournament now,” Ripplinger said. “If there’s a tournament where a kid needs a wake-up call, this one is it.”
The tournament will now have 32 high schools with the addition of two more schools, but Ripplinger is hopeful that it will help his team see where they stand by the time the tournament rolls around.
“I definitely want to fight for a region title, and I don’t think it’s an unrealistic goal,” he said. “I’m excited to be back on the mat. Region 1 wrestling, in all seriousness, is almost like the (Southeastern Conference) of college football. There are no soft opponents.”
Vikings 2013-2014 schedule
12-6, 7 @ Layton Invitational (Layton High)
12-19 @ Northridge
12-20, 21 VIEWMONT INVITATIONAL (@ Legacy Events Center)
1-2 @ Layton
1-3, 4 @ Bobcat Brawl (Sky View)
1-10, 11 @ Richardson Memorial
1-16 @ Weber
1-23 @ Davis
1-24, 25 @ 5A Duals (Jordan High)
2-5, 6 5A Divisional Tournament (Jordan High)
2-13, 14, 15 @ 5A State Tournament (Maverik Center)
2-21, 22 @ Super State Tournament (TBA)