ST. GEORGE — High school wrestlers from Region 9 might not be able to win for their teams but they’ll have a very good chance to bring home some individual honors this weekend at the 4A state wrestling tournament.

Hurricane’s Keegan Miller wrestles against Cedar in the Region 9 wrestling championship dual, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 25, 2024 | Photo courtesy Hurricane High School, St. George News

This year’s expansion of the 4A classification from 13 to 27 schools impacted some sports more than others. On the mat, it made it even more difficult for Region 9 teams to win the state crown.

“It definitely changed things,” Hurricane coach Phil Armstrong told St. George News on Tuesday. “It brought back a lot of the tougher teams, and our division had four regional champions, so that presented a really tough divisional tournament.”

At last weekend’s divisional round, none of the Region 9 teams qualified enough wrestlers to compete for the team title at the 4A state championships this weekend at Utah Valley University in Orem.

“Going into divisionals, we were hoping to get 16 guys qualified for state,” Armstrong said, adding that three Tigers were injured and a fourth did not make weight at divisionals. “So we only had 10 qualify but three of those were out of our control.” 

“I’m not in any way disappointed in our performance,” he added. “Now we’re excited to get to state and see what we can pull off.”

Four Tigers – Paul Wright, Caden Andersen, Isaac Dickinson, Alex Stubbs – reached the championship match in the divisional round last weekend.

“I told the kids that when you get to state it’s a whole new thing,” Armstrong said. “Rankings are good, seedings are important but really it brings the focus to one match at a time.”

Two freshmen Tigers – Asher Suwyn and Brice Hawkins – will compete at state as well for Hurricane.

“That’s just fantastic, to have state qualifiers coming back for next year,” Armstrong said. “I told the kids that there’s 10 of you going to state, and there’s no reason why 10 of you don’t come back with hardware. It would be fantastic to see that.” 

As previously reported in St. George News, Hurricane won its first Region 9 team title in over 20 years after defeating Cedar at the end of the season.

“That was a really exciting night,” Armstrong said. “We’ve been right there the last couple of years. It just kind of came together really well this year.

“We were short-handed that night, so to pull off the win while missing some guys makes it a little more special,” he added. “We had some real breakthroughs for the kids who got called upon at the last minute.” 

Armstrong said that the Tigers were well supported throughout the season by the community, Hurricane fans and the high school administration.

Region 9 wrestlers at state

The 4A girls state wrestling matches are held Wednesday and Thursday at UVU in Orem.

Snow Canyon senior Tag Gubler (center) stands atop the medals podium after winning the 285-pound bracket at the divisional meet held at Green Canyon High School, North Logan, Utah, Feb. 3, 2024 | Photo courtesy of Elsha Gubler, St. George News

A total of 34 wrestlers from Region 9 qualified for state by placing within the top eight of their respective brackets at divisionals.

Six of those grapplers finished first in their brackets and won top seeds this weekend at state, including:

Crimson Cliffs junior Quinci Smith (115 pounds), Crimson Cliffs junior Bree West (155 pounds), Snow Canyon sophomore Nia Hagler (135 pounds), Snow Canyon senior Megan Allred (190 pounds) Desert Hills junior Lucy Harris (140 pounds) and Pine View junior Lily Pomeroy (145 pounds).

Representing schools from Region 9, Crimson Cliffs qualified nine girls for state while Snow Canyon has seven. Cedar qualified six grapplers and Dixie, Desert Hills and Pine View each had four qualifiers apiece. 

Meanwhile in the boys matches at 4A state taking place at UVU in Orem on Thursday and Friday, a total of more than 50 wrestlers from Region 9 will be on display.

Representing schools from Region 9, Snow Canyon qualified 12 boys at state. Hurricane’s 10 will be joined by 10 grapplers from Crimson Cliffs. Desert Hills sends nine wrestlers to Orem, Cedar sends eight, Dixie has three Flyers going and Pine View has one.

Snow Canyon had two divisional champions (junior Kaden Guymon, 132 pounds and senior heavyweight Tag Gubler) who both have high hopes heading to state.

“Kayden is a returning state champion and he has a nice trajectory,” Snow Canyon coach Nick Lang said. “He’ll have a tough opponent in the finals. He’s hungry, he’s put in the time and I expect him to achieve his goals and repeat as state champion.”

Gubler was a runner-up at state last year, Lang said, so he’s got that extra motivation to win it all as a senior.

“He’s looking for redemption,” Lang said. “To be that close to a state championship has really motivated him to hit the weights and put on a lot of size and strength. He’s coachable, has a great attitude and is a team captain. I feel that this is Tag’s year.”

Kayden Madsen of Crimson Cliffs won the 138-pound divisional bout and will lead the Mustangs’ contingent at state this weekend.

Cedar City News/St. George News sports reporter Jeff Richards contributed to this report.

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