When I first started covering wrestling nine years ago, Logan had a heck of a time fielding a full squad.
Sure, the Grizzlies always seemed to have a couple of elite grapplers, but they would also routinely forfeit four or more weight classes in each duel.
Those days are long gone, however. Logan is now a well-respected program, and Bo Roundy has a lot to do with that. In his seven seasons at the Grizzly helm, Roundy has greatly increased the program's culture of winning, not to mention enthusiasm.
It's easy to see that Roundy has a great love for the sport and his wrestlers. The former Big Blue displays a lot of positive energy when he coaches, and the kids have responded in a positive manner.
Simply put, more of the school's elite athletes now want to wrestle, and the results can be seen. Over the past few years, Logan has crowned four individual state champions and has beaten renowned programs Viewmont and Uintah in duel-style tournaments, among other things.
The Grizzlies capped off a stellar 2011-12 campaign by finishing fourth at the 4A State Championships on Thursday at Utah Valley's UCCU Center. Seven Logan grapplers earned a spot on the podium, which is believed to be a school record.
The rest of the state obviously took notice as Roundy was named the 4A Coach of the Year after the tournament. This is a well-deserved honor.
"I'm humbled by it," Roundy said. "It didn't expect it. You know, it's something that you work for just to be recognized, and I think a recognized team is a team that's producing kids that compete hard and are respected by other teams. ... To me, the award is a recognition from the state and those other coaches saying, ‘Hey, we've noticed what you're doing and you've got great wrestlers,' and so I take it as a compliment to our team."
Hats off to accomplished seniors
Between the two of them, Mountain Crest's Sylas Wells and Logan's Quinn Hinckley posted a combined record of 93-2 this season.
I fully expected both competitors to end their prep careers with state titles, and the duo did not disappoint.
Notwithstanding his loss to Hurricane three-time state champion Brian Scott in the All-Star Duels, I believe the physically-imposing Wells was the most dominant wrestler in the state this season. Even those grapplers who are nationally ranked didn't run through opponents as frequently as Wells.
I mean, how many wrestlers in state history can say they pinned every one of their foes in the state tournament in less than a minute?
"I can't say enough about Sylas, and what a great year he had," MC head coach Guy Burdett said. "... He really showed, especially the last two to three weeks, a focus and a determination (to get better). And it's really tough when we're going out and just beating everybody (easily)."
Wells ended his prep career with school-record 43 first-round pins. Here's hoping the 220-pounder will get a chance to compete at the next level. This guy has a tremendous upside.
"(This season) helped me realize that I need to go to college somewhere for wrestling," said Wells, whose younger brother Eli recently won a middle school state title. "I wanted to go to college for football, but just the chances that I've had going and wrestling has been pretty fun."
As for Hinckley, I believe he proved he was the second-best 132-pounder in all of Utah, behind only nationally ranked Jed Mellen of Payson. It was nice to see Hinckley pin his opponent in the finals and become a state champion, because in addition to being a strong competitor, Quinn just seems like a genuinely good person.
"You could tell it was his match and his day," Roundy said. "He's worked a lot of years for this moment, and I'm proud of him. And I'm going to absolutely miss him. There are a lot of people in our wrestling room and in our wrestling community that look up to him. He's a hero to a lot of kids ... and he's an outstanding role model."
Hinckley has also been a very gracious competitor and in true form he made it a point to thank current and former teammates Spencer McKay, Jesse Dunn, Talon Teeples and Isaac Harrison for helping him become an elite wrestler.
"Without those four, I probably wouldn't be where I'm at - especially Spencer McKay," Hinckley said. "He's the one that started me wrestling. ... I love him to death, all four of them."
Speaking of McKay, it was good to see him handle a frustrating situation as well as he did. McKay has been the second- or third-best 170-pounder in all of Utah all season long. Unfortunately, he received a raw deal by being placed on the same side of the bracket as Olympus' Brandon McBride.
McBride, who grew up in Cache Valley, is probably one of the three best prep grapplers in the Beehive State this season. I reported on the humble McBride when he was a national champion during his grade school years. The ultra-athletic McBride capped off a 43-0 season Thursday by catching and pinning Box Elder's Britton Gunther in a first-round bear hug. McBride ended his prep career as a four-time state champion - in three different states, no less (Idaho and Illinois were the others).
Before pinning Gunther, McBride beat McKay by technical fall in the semifinals. It was only McKay's second loss of the season. It's a shame because McKay, a three-time region champion, should have been given the opportunity to earn a spot in the finals.
To McKay's credit, though, he didn't dwell on his misfortune, and ended up placing third. The senior displayed a lot of grit in the consolation semifinals by fighting off his back and taking down Maple Mountain's Jordan Argyle with 10 seconds remaining in the bout to earn a 7-6 victory.
"They shouldn't have been on the same side of the bracket," Roundy said. "(McKay) was almost penalized for winning region. ... He did a great job and to come back from that loss is a really difficult thing to do, and to take third, I'm so proud of Spencer.
"I'm just pleased that he didn't complain and he wrestled through it. That says a lot about him."
Several Cache Valley grapplers medaled at the state tourney for at least the second straight year. Mountain Crest's Rayden Lindley and Logan's Hinckley secured three straight podium finishes, while McKay ended his career as a three-time state placer.
Harrison became a two-time state placer for Logan, while Brady Dart, Kaden Lindley, Taylon Niederhauser, Drake Comer and Wells accomplished the same feat for Mountain Crest.
It would have been very interesting to see how the 4A tourney would have panned out had the divisional tournaments been retained this season.
Mountain Crest, Box Elder, Logan - and all the Region 5 schools, for that matter - would have qualified more kids for state. The Mustangs and Bees routinely sent 23-26 grapplers to the state tournament under the divisional format.
My gut feeling tells me the Bees probably would have captured a second straight 4A crown had they qualified 25 wrestlers like eventual champion Maple Mountain did. Box Elder only lost by 16 points, and the Bees had eight fewer competitors than the Golden Eagles.
Now, I'm not trying to complain that Region 5 - which was undoubtedly the toughest region in 4A this season - got a raw deal.
It's just the way things work out sometimes. After all, every region typically seems to have at least one sport its especially good at and, as a result, worthy teams and individuals get left out.
Still, I've got to say I felt bad for a couple of local grapplers who were victimized by competing in loaded weight classes within a loaded region. Mountain Crest's Tanner Lewis, Logan's Hunter Ballam and Sky View's Klay Kelsey all had solid seasons, but didn't get to showcase their abilities at state.
I wish those kids - all dark horse state-placer candidates - would have received that opportunity.