WEST VALLEY CITY — On a team loaded with wrestling stars, Pleasant Grove sophomore Ben Anderson is quickly becoming one of the Vikings' brightest.
Anderson overcame a knock to the head and a brief whiteout in the second period, and then leg cramping in the third to hold off Syracuse’s Colton Berger for the 10-7 victory in the 120-pound 5A semifinal on Friday night.
“It comes down to that last couple seconds. You just have to fight your way through and battle it out,” said Anderson.
Berger cut the deficit to 7-6 on a reversal with 30 seconds remaining, but Anderson reversed him right back to avoid any late-match drama.
“I just had to keep working. I couldn’t think I had it in the bag. I had to keep going after it 'cause he was catching up,” said Anderson, one of six Pleasant Grove wrestlers to advance to the 5A finals at the Maverik Center.
Anderson is one of four defending state champs for the Vikings, and the sophomore's dream of a perfect state championship career is alive and well. He’s trying not to get caught up in that potential, though.
“I don’t want to think I’ve already won a state championship. You’ve got to forget about the past and you just have to keep moving forward and beat the guy ahead of you,” said Anderson, who improved to 49-7 with the win.
Most Pleasant Grove wrestlers will be favored in their title matches Saturday, making the team title a foregone conclusion as the Vikings own a commanding lead over second-place Layton after day two, 217.5 to 132.5.
Even though team drama will be lacking Saturday night, there will be plenty to watch. Alta’s Matt Findlay pinned Herriman’s Tony Trujillo in his 138-pound semifinal to move within one victory of a fourth-straight 5A individual title.
Pleasant Grove junior Kyson Levin won his 113-pound semifinal in relatively easy fashion Friday, setting him up for a shot at three-straight titles in the finals.
PG teammates T.J. Wind and Zach Dawe are eying back-to-back titles as well in the finals.
Taylorsville’s Roy Nash improved to 36-0 with a semifinal victory over Northridge’s Chaz Gray, and he’ll try and cap a second-straight perfect season in Saturday’s championship matches.
“I felt like I went out there and performed. I got in one sticky situation and I came out on top. I feel like I did about as good as I wanted to do,” said Nash, who's committed to wrestle at UVU after he serves a mission for the LDS Church.
Nash finished with a perfect record as a junior last season as well, and is one victory away from ending his high school career unblemished.
At Maverik Center
Team scores after Day 2
1. Pleasant Grove, 217.5; 2. Layton, 132.5; 3. Syracuse, 124; 4. Jordan, 85.5; 5. Herriman, 82.5; 6. Bingham, 75; 7. Davis, 71; 8. American Fork, 68; 9. Fremont, 53; 10. Lehi, 52.
Friday’s semifinal results
106 — Nelson Jones, Pleasant Grove def. Kade Evans, Davis, 7-5 (OT); Cameron Hunsaker, American Fork def. Taylor Porath, Viewmont, 4-2.
113 — Kyson Levin, Pleasant Grove def. Braxton Ocana, Layton, 12-5; Brock George, Syracuse def. Heston Woolsey, Weber, 10-8.
120 — Benjamin Anderson, Pleasant Grove def. Colton Berger, Syracuse, 10-7; Dallin Denton, Fremont def. Jacob Knapp, Cottonwood, 7-5
126 — Jackson Wilson, American Fork def. David Kim, Viewmont, 6-5; Andrew Astle, Layton def. Jake Barton, Bingham, 6-0
132 — Jaydon Rogers, Fremont def. Jaron Jensen, Herriman, 10-4; Andrew Bartholomew, American Fork def. Joey Day, Jordan, 8-6.
138 — Oscar Rodriguez, Layton def. Landon Gates, Pleasant Grove, 1-0; Matt Findlay, Alta def. Tony Trujillo, Herriman, fall 2:46.
145 — Jacob Naylor, Davis def. Tayler Johnson, Jordan, 10-7; Teague Vigil, Syracuse def. Jed Diederich, Cottonwood, 6-4
152 — Zach Colangelo, West def. Luke Davis, Brighton, 5-1; Colton Marshall, Layton def. Garrett Hoyt, Weber, fall 1:18.
160 — Bailey Carlson, Pleasant Grove def. Spencer Hansen, Westlake, 12-7; Kenner French, Herriman def. Koy Wilkinson, Pleasant Grove, 9-1
170 — TJ Wind, Pleasant Grove def. Ryan Hoyne, Jordan, 18-4; Sean Marchant, Syracuse def. Raul Cervantes, Jordan, 7-5
182 — Will Lang, West def. Jordan Bagwell, Viewmont, fall 0:32; Wyatt Koelling, Davis def. Marcos Garcia, Pleasant Grove, 9-3
195 — Nick Heninger, Bingham def. Connor Taylor, Davis, 6-1; Clay Moss, Jordan def. Landon Brown, Layton, 5-4
220 — Aspen Naylor, Syracuse def. Austin Taylor, Syracuse, 5-2; Roy Nash, Taylorsville def. Chaz Gray, Northridge, fall 2:55
285 — Zach Dawe, Pleasant Grove def. Dalton Mortensen, Granger, fall 3:28; Brackin Stringam, Lehi def. Austin Bunkall, Bingham, fall 1:06.