Brighton places three in state wrestling tournament, finishes seventh overall
Brayden Stevens celebrates his state championship in 2017. (Jerry Christensen/Brighton Wrestling)
To the untrained eye, placing seventh in a tournament might not seem like a big deal, but don’t tell that to the Brighton wrestling team.
The Bengals more than held their own in the ultra-competitive Class 5A state wrestling tournament, held at Utah Valley University Feb. 7 and 8. Brighton scored 77.5 points, placing seventh out of 23 teams in 5A. The Bengals were just 6.5 points behind sixth-place Olympus.
Head coach Mitchell Stevens was happy with his team’s effort, especially considering the caliber of opponents at the tournament. Brighton was up against the likes of state powers Viewmont and Wasatch (which placed first and second, respectively) as well as Maple Mountain, Box Elder and Skyridge.
“We had a great state tournament,” Stevens said. “I’m pleased with the kids. It was no easy task.”
The Bengals qualified nine wrestlers for state, and three of those competitors placed during the two-day tournament. Senior Brayden Stevens highlighted Brighton’s tournament with a championship run in the 152-pound class. He captured his second straight state title by defeating Brad Findlay of Corner Canyon in the final match. He gained the victory by fall in just 1:37.
“The kids were really excited about doing so well, but the coaches were just as excited,” Mitchell Stevens said. “It’s the reflection of a good wrestling program and good wrestling community.”
Sophomore Anthony Ouk and junior Jaxson Wilde each placed third at the tournament. Ouk completed a strong tournament in the 126-pound weight class by defeating Hadley Cowan of Skyridge in the third-place match by fall in 3:04. Ouk won his first match and then made his way through the consolation bracket after losing in the quarterfinals 11-7.
“[Ouk] beat some tough kids he had lost to earlier in the season,” Mitchell Stevens said. “He’s always had the talent; he just need belief.”
Wilde was third in the 132-pound class. After going 46-12 in the regular season, Wilde won his first two matches before losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Stockton O’Brien of Wasatch. From there, Wilde won a pair of consolation matches, including a 10-3 decision in the third-place match over Brayden Tucker of Box Elder.
Mitchell Stevens is excited for what lies ahead with the program. Several underclassmen gained valuable experience this season. Ouk and Wilde will lead a host of returners next season.
“We had some freshman that qualified for state,” Mitchell Stevens said. “The future looks pretty good if the kids will put in the work. The best kids put in the work in the offseason. We have some great freshman and sophomores coming up.”
Mitchell Stevens pointed out that his Bengals were the highest-placing team from Region 7, even though they had lost to league foes Alta and Corner Canyon in dual meets during the regular season.
“It’s how you finish, not how you start,” he said.
Mitchell Stevens said he will spend the offseason trying to increase the numbers of participants in the program. He’ll work with youth programs and get people excited about Brighton wrestling.
“We’re trying to progress as a program,” he said. “We’re going to work to get more kids in the program.”