CEDAR CITY — Cedar High School’s boys wrestling team hosted longtime rival Dixie in the annual “Battle of the Bell” dual match on Tuesday night, with the Reds prevailing, 54-19.

Wrestlers Aiden Po’uha of Cedar (back) and Conner Jolley of Dixie compete at 215 pounds during the “Battle of the Bell,” Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 12, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Cedar won seven of the 14 varsity matches by fall and two others by forfeit. Dixie won two matches by fall and three by decision.

The match was Cedar’s second and final home contest of the season, and as such, it was senior night. The team’s five seniors (Zack Taylor, Dalton Wheeler, Justin Anderson, Aiden Po’uha and Cooper Jolley) and their parents took the floor to be recognized prior to the match.

The Cedar boys’ only other scheduled home match of the season took place last week on Dec. 7, when the Reds lost a close battle to Crimson Cliffs, 41-36.

Also receiving special recognition on Tuesday night was former three-time state wrestling champion Matt Carter, who was inducted into the Cedar High School Athletics Hall of Fame.

Carter, a 1997 alumnus of Cedar High, took state at 189 pounds during both his sophomore and junior years. As a senior Carter moved up to the 215-pound classification and went on to claim the state title once again, posting a season record of 43-1. Carter also was an all-state lineman for the football team.

Following high school, Carter wrestled for Northwest Community College in Powell, Wyoming, where he placed seventh in nationals his freshman year. He then served a two-year church mission in Australia, after which he resumed his studies at Northwest. He placed second in nationals his sophomore year and also helped coach the team.

Cedar High School Class of 1997 alumnus and former standout wrestler Matt Carter is flanked by family members and school officials as he receives plaque as a newly inducted member of the school’s athletics hall of fame, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 12, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Carter then went on to attend Montana State University-Northern, where placed fifth in nationals as a junior, followed by an NAIA national title as a heavyweight his senior year in March 2004.

As Carter stood with family members on the mat before Tuesday night’s match, his biographical information was read aloud by the event announcer, who quoted former head football coach Todd Peacock as saying, “Renn (Hoopes) was an incredible coach and Matt was an extraordinary talent and a tough, hard-working athlete. They are responsible for his success at Cedar High and beyond.”

Following the match, Carter posed for a group photo with several of his former teammates at Cedar High and then spoke with St. George News.

“It was actually really neat to see, all my friends, we wrestled with a lot of these guys here,” Carter said. “Good to see everybody out enjoying wrestling. Love the sport. It’s fun, a lot of fun to be here.”

Carter said he particularly enjoyed seeing Cedar coming out on top over Dixie.

“We beat them a lot when we were there and it was good to beat them again,” he said with a laugh. Carter noted that the gymnasium used to be packed to the rafters with fans when the two schools would meet for the “Battle of the Bell.”

Tuesday evening’s match started with the 285-pound heavyweight category with Cedar’s Ian Po’uha prevailing over Dixie’s Andrew Warden by decision (6-4).

Wrestlers Justin Anderson of Cedar (top) and Ethan Brooks of Dixie compete at 175 pounds during the “Battle of the Bell,” Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 12, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Cedar then won the two lightest weights by forfeit as Dixie didn’t have a wrestler at either 106 or 113 pounds.

At 120 pounds, Dixie’s Jack Thompson defeated Cedar’s Abraham Meraz by major decision, 10-1.

At 126 pounds, Dixie’s Lochlan Wittwer then outlasted Cedar senior Zack Taylor by a 6-4 decision, with Taylor’s last-second move to tie the score apparently coming slightly too late as the buzzer sounded to end the third round.

Dixie’s Hayden Wittwer then pinned Brady Womack to win the 132-pound match for the Flyers.

All of the remaining eight matches were then decided by fall, with Cedar winning seven of them. Winning by pin for the Reds were Kian Pulsipher at 138 pounds (over Porter Jepson), Andres Valencia at 144 (over Kade Mullins); Truitt Purcell at 150 (over Colton Hill); Cooper Jolley at 165 (over Tadeo Decasas); Justin Anderson at 175 (over Ethan Brooks); Marshall Leclair at 190 (over Alex Ortega); and Aiden Po’uha at 215 (over Conner Jolley).

The Flyers’ lone win during that stretch came at 157 pounds when Dixie’s Karter Robinson pinned Cedar’s Bryan Morales.

Cedar’s next scheduled matches are right after the holiday break with a dual meet at Desert Hills on Jan. 4, followed by the Irontown Tournament at Canyon View on Jan. 5-6.

The next two events on Dixie’s calendar are a dual match at Kanab on Dec. 20 and a home dual meet vs. Hurricane on Jan. 4.

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