EVANSTON — The Evanston High School wrestling team is off to a strong start for the 2019-20 season, finishing third as a team over the weekend at the Evanston Invitational, an improvement over last year’s fifth-place finish.
Bear River took the team title with 261 points. Pinedale was second with 141.5 points; Evanston (123 points), Lyman (118 points) and Weber (102.5 points) rounded out the top five.
“We got started pretty good,” said EHS head coach Larry Wagstaff. “We need to work on a few things, obviously, but all in all, the kids wrestled hard. The first week out, that’s what you hope for in terms of their effort.”
Nine Red Devils reached the podium in their respective weight classes, led by Jaxin Moore, who advanced all the way to the championship match at 120 pounds. Moore lost an overtime thriller to Green River’s Hunter Davis to claim silver for the tournament; he finished second in this tournament last year at 113 pounds.
“That was a good match,” Wagstaff said of Moore’s performance. “It could have ... [gone] either way. Jaxin was very competitive against a really talented kid from Green River. Jaxin was pretty solid in all his matches.”
Four Red Devils wrestled their way to third-place finishes, including Kendell Cummings at 132 pounds, Rigden Wagstaff at 170 pounds, Mayson Erickson at 195 pounds and Eric Orozco at 285 pounds.
Quetzalli Saavedra made the podium at 106 pounds, finishing in sixth place. Wrestling for fifth place against Lyman’s Kazzen Siler, Saavedra built an early lead and nearly pinned her opponent before Siler turned the tables in the second round to win by pin.
“Q (Quetzalli Saavedra) is a young woman who scraps hard for us,” Wagstaff said.
The Red Devils placed two wrestlers on the podium at 120 pounds, as Brandon VanGieson joined teammate Moore for the medal ceremony, finishing sixth.
“Brandon will eventually be our 113 pounder,” Wagstaff said. “He wrestled well for us.”
Kasen Landry posted a 2-3 record at 126, with impressive wins over Pinedale’s Garrett Lund and Big Piney’s Mason Schell en route to a fourth-place finish.
At 132 pounds, Cummings got off to a strong start, beating Weber’s Rigby Peterson by technical fall and pinning Grantsville’s Jacob Day in the quarterfinals. A 12-3 loss to Bear River’s Zack Folkman dropped Cummings to the consolation finals, where he won 11-5 over Pinedale’s Wyatt Madole to take the bronze.
“Kendell didn’t wrestle as well as I thought he could in the semifinals,” Wagstaff said. “But he’s definitely capable of doing well.”
Ryker Case posted a 3-3 record at 145 pounds to place sixth, with all three wins coming by pin over Riggen Walker (Kemmerer), Tanner Giatras (Weber) and Ian Grover (Pinedale).
“Ryker wrestled fairly well, and I think you’ll see as the year goes on some great improvement in him,” Wagstaff said.
Rigden Wagstaff posted a 3-1 record at 170 pounds, losing by fall in the semifinals to Mountain View’s Mark Walker before rebounding to take third with pins over Daniel Harris (Mountain View) and (Weber High). Wagstaff finished second in this tournament a year ago at 160 pounds.
“Rigden wrestled a pretty good tournament, but he had a bit of a lapse in his semifinal match,” coach Wagstaff said.
Erickson’s third-place finish at 195 included three wins by pin over Ryker Hatch (Bear River High School), Thomas Howard (Big Piney) and Chaz Shafer (Grantsville). Erickson’s lone blemish on the weekend was a 3-1 loss to Bear River’s Braxton Christensen in the quarterfinals; Christensen went on to place second.
At 285 pounds, Orozco posted a 3-1 record en route to a third-place finish, with wins over Trever Condos (Mountain View) and Ian Briskey (Weber); Orozco pinned Grantsville’s Garrett Behunin in the third place match.
Other wrestlers who scored points for the Red Devils include Jayden Schneider (2-2 at 132 pounds), Kody Rex (1-2 at 132 pounds), Brock Roberts (2-2 at 145 pounds), Bryson Davis (1-2 at 170 pounds) and Rigan Hoggatt (1-2 at 220 pounds).
The Red Devils will have a busy week leading into the Christmas break, with a double dual scheduled for Wednesday at Morgan, Utah and the Viewmont Invitational Friday and Saturday in Bountiful, Utah, featuring some of the top Utah schools.
“We wrestle Bear River and Morgan on Wednesday — Bear River won our tournament, and they have a real good bunch again this year,” Wagstaff said. “That will be a good challenge for us, and Morgan always puts a good team together, so we’ll have to step up a level to go with those guys.”