HURRICANE — The Hurricane High School boys wrestling team claimed its first region title in more than 20 years with a 46-25 defeat of Cedar in a dual meet at Hurricane on Thursday.

The Tigers won nine of the 14 matches of the evening: five by fall or pin, three by decision and one by forfeit.

Going into the match against Cedar, Hurricane had already beaten five other Region 9 teams in dual matches, starting with a 42-33 win over Desert Hills on Nov. 30 and most recently defeating Snow Canyon 42-24 on Jan. 18.

Hurricane head coach Phil Armstrong said he knew Cedar would be a tough test, as the Tigers had previously lost to the Reds during the Iron Town Duels tournament at Canyon View High in early January.

“We knew going in that if we wanted to be the region champs, we had to win,” Armstrong said of Thursday’s match, which attracted a large hometown crowd on senior night.

Three of Cedar’s wins came among the four lightest weights. However, the Tigers ended up winning six matches in a row in the middle weights.

Armstrong said his son Liam, who wrestles varsity as a 132-pound sophomore, wasn’t there for Thursday’s contest.

“So we put in our JV at 120 and pushed our 120 to 126 and our 126 to 132 to compensate for that, and that actually paid off really well for us,” he explained, noting that Dashden Wheeler was the Hurricane wrestler who moved up from 120 pounds to 126, where he took on Cedar’s Zack Taylor. After three closely contested rounds, Taylor ended up prevailing in a 10-9 decision.

Hurricane High School wrestlers celebrate with fans in the crowd after clinching Region 9 championship, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 25, 2024 | Photo courtesy of Hurricane High School Athletics, St. George News

“He still lost but he was right there with that guy,” Amrnstrong said of Wheeler. “You know, a 3-point loss is much easier to handle than a pin. So even though it wasn’t a victory, it was still important.”

Later on, with Patrick Miller, Hurricane’s regular varsity 150-pound wrestler out for concussion protocol, Armstrong said he substituted senior Brecken Little. Little managed to edge past Cedar’s Noah Jarvis in a 6-4 decision.

“Brecken is a great kid, great wrestler,” Armstrong said. “He’s been with the program all these years … we knew it’d be difficult, but he pulled it off. And that really helped continue to build the momentum for the team.”

In the three uppermost weights, Hurricane’s Tad Peart defeated Cedar’s Marshall Leclair by second-round pin in the 190-pound match, after which Ethan Farnsworth won a 4-0 decision over Cedar’s Cutler Rowley at 215 pounds. Then, in the heavyweight (285 pound) match, Cedar’s Ian Po’uha defeated Hurricane’s Titus Tuinei by first-round pin.

“Cedar could have caught us if we would have lost those last three, but we only lost that heavyweight match,” Armstrong noted. “Tad’s was an important victory because it clinched it no matter what, at that point. It was really exciting. I am so appreciative of the Hurricane community. Man, they came out in droves.”

Next up for the Region 9 boys wrestling teams will be the 4A Divisionals scheduled for Feb. 2-3. Hurricane will be joining 11 other teams, including Cedar, Crimson Cliffs and Desert Hills, at the Division B tournament at Uintah High School in Vernal. Meanwhile, the other 13 teams in the 4A classification will compete in the Division A tournament staged at Green Canyon High School in North Logan. Dixie, Pine View, and Snow Canyon will be representing Region 9 at the Division A event.

The top eight finishers in each weight from each of the two divisional tournaments will qualify for the 4A state finals, which are scheduled for Feb. 16-17 at Utah Valley University in Orem.

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