Alta wrestling has a successful 2016–17 campaign
Feb 22, 2017 02:29PM ● Published by Billy Swartzfager
Alta wrestlers hold up a trophy from a tournament earlier this season. (Alta High School Facebook)
Alta High School’s wrestling team finished the 2016–17 season at the 4A individual state championship tournament, Feb. 8–9, held at Utah Valley University. The Hawks finished 15th overall, right about the middle of the pack, scoring over 40 team points and having two wrestlers place in the top five.
This year’s team, coached by Barry Harrington, who has been working with grapplers at Alta for 26 years, was described by Harrington as hardnosed with a keep-coming attitude. The Hawks are led by senior Sione Hafoka, who wrestles heavyweight. He is a hardworking team captain and is a very vocal leader. Senior John Lyon, who wrestles at 120 pounds, is also a leader on the team, who chooses to lead by example. Junior Taylor Heath, who placed last season at the state tournament and weighs in at 138 pounds, also provides leadership for the team.
The long, grueling season began back in October with practices that consist of a lot of basic wrestling education and repetition. Harrington has the team run through a lot of drills as well as short-burst live wrestling scenarios and practice matches. The team then took part in matches and tournaments throughout the remainder of the year, all in preparation for the year’s culmination. During the season, Harrington was proud to see his team come together as a unit, to see them develop unity and chemistry.
“It’s a time when we really come together as a team,” Harrington said.
The group also travels to Las Vegas every year for a tournament that acts as a measuring stick of the team’s overall toughness and capabilities, as well as an opportunity for the group to bond and develop camaraderie.
“We really get to see what we are made of mentally, physically and emotionally,” Harrington said. “It’s a time when we really come together as a team.”
The postseason began with the 4A dual tournament, which Alta hosted on Jan 26. Alta won its first match versus Highland but lost its second match against Maple Mountain, who ended up taking third in the dual tournament. Alta was bounced from the competition after their third match against Corner Canyon. The 4A divisional tournament was held the following week, Feb. 1–2 at the Legacy Events Center in Farmington. Nine Alta wrestlers qualified for the state tournament during the divisional round.
At the state tournament, two Alta grapplers took fifth place or higher. Kyle Hall, who wrestled at 195 pounds, finished fifth. Tate Renckert took fourth place at the tournament at 145 pounds. Both team leaders won two matches at the tournament.
Alta will have some experience to begin next season, as a few of the state qualifiers from this year are underclassmen, including Renckert. That leadership will help Alta continue to work with and build the chemistry Harrington liked so much from this season. The team stuck together and pushed each other further than anyone would have gone alone.
“They have come together as a brotherhood,” said Harrington. “They truly have each other’s backs, win or lose.”