Grand County High School hosted the Moab Invitational wrestling tournament on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1 and 2. The meet featured 14 teams from Utah and Colorado.
The Red Devils took seventh place overall on the first day of the event with a combined score of 120, with Monticello taking first place with an overall score of 289.5. Individually, Carson Whitney took first place in the 106-pound division, with Kayden Robertson taking first among 138-pounders. Gage Hansen and Jimmie Johnson took second in the 285- and 120-pound divisions, respectively, and Jaymin Hester took third in the 220-pound division.
The disparity between the overall and individual scores is due to the lack of depth on the Red Devils’ roster this season, according to head coach Dennis Wells. With Robertson and Hansen being the only two seniors on the team, Wells expressed concern about the challenges this causes, saying, “I had eight football players that decided not to wrestle this year … so if you include those [players], we’d have a full team with a lot of experience.”
Wells explained that while the team has a lot of talent and potential, it would suffer in tournaments with heavier stacked teams. “We’ll take our beating team-wise, but we’ll have a few individuals that will do really good,” Wells said. He also said Whitney could potentially be one of the best wrestlers in the state. Whitney ended up placing first in his weight class in a standout performance at the tournament.
Robertson also weighed in on his team’s inexperience, saying “I think that we have a lot of hard-working kids on the team, and potentially this year and next year will be the building years, and then after that this program will start picking up and getting really good.” Robertson also said that he feels very comfortable, along with fellow senior Gage Hansen, in their leadership roles on the team, and that they have had a rapport with the younger wrestlers for many years.
Hansen had a strong run early on, despite sustaining a bloody nose in one of his earlier matches after bumping heads with an opponent. It was his loss to the undefeated Casey Orange of Mancos that ultimately landed him in second place.
The Red Devils will have their work cut out for them as they head to the Desert Hills Invitational in St. George this weekend, Dec. 9 and 10.