Hillcrest High wrestling team makes a comeback
Sariah Gist, Abi Wolf and Elisa Madison take home medals at the all-girls wrestling tournament. (Photo/Hillcrest Wrestling Facebook)
Hillcrest High School used to being known for great wrestling in the ‘80s and ‘90s but over the past several years they have had their share of struggles. But those struggles seem to be a thing of the past as they made their mark with a much anticipated comeback.
In an article published in the Midvale Journal before the season began, Gentry Gasser, Hillcrest High wrestling coach said Hillcrest was on the rise again and they would continue to look forward.
Gasser stated at the beginning of the year that Hillcrest had returned a solid core of varsity athletes, only losing five seniors to graduation and with a big push and extra support from the football coaching staff they were hopeful for a lot of newcomers to help build the team.
“Last year, Hillcrest had its first state placer in seven years when junior Keala Mahe placed fourth,” Gasser said. This gave the team and the now senior hope for a successful new season.
Although the Hillcrest wrestling team fell short of its 2017-18 season goal of becoming region champs, the coaching staff felt this past season was a huge success and a giant step towards the long-term goal of becoming one of the most respected wrestling programs in Utah.
Noah Nicholls, Scotty Abbott, Haakon Groth, Keala Mahe, and Alex Cardona represented Hillcrest well over the season and they all qualified to compete in the 6A State Championship Tournament at Utah Valley University. Out of those five wrestlers, two walked away with awards the final night of the tournament—Keala Mahe and Scott Abbott.
After anticipating a good year for not just himself, but for his entire team, Mahe wrestled his way to the state finals where he took second place. This year proved to be just about everything he had expected with a season full of accomplishments, starting with first place at the 17th Annual Mat Classic where he was also awarded the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. Keala took first place at the 2018 Best of the West, second place at the Christmas Clash Invitational, second place at the UHSAA 2018 6A Division A tournament, and seventh at the Rockwell Rumble. Keala finished with a season record of 38-5.
Scott Abbott, also a senior, was presented at the 6A State Championship Tournament with the prestigious Academic All-State Award. Coaches said Scott defines what it means to be well rounded. In addition to finishing his season with 24 wins, he’s actively involved in drama and theater and manages to maintain a 4.0 GPA in Hillcrest’s International Baccalaureate program.
The Hillcrest wrestling coaching staff also recognized senior classman wrestler Pete Heslop saying a lot of the team’s successes can be attributed to the behind-the-scenes hard work and intensity he contributed on a daily basis in practice.
Hillcrest wrestling strongly believes it will be able to improve on its successes and is anticipating big results from veteran wrestlers like Brody Roemich, Noah Nicholls, Haakon Groth, Jesse Peart and Jason Barnes as well as the developing talents of Talon Yates, Ean Abbott and Tanner Wilde.
Hillcrest also sponsored its first all-girls wrestling club and garnered a lot of interest from the girls at the school. Sariah Gist has been competing with the boys her entire life and at the All-Girls State Tournament last year came home with a third place finish. She took home a first place finish at the all-girls tournament and clinic run by a two-time Olympic wrestler from Nigeria, back in December. Abi Wolf and Elisa Madison both took home third place medals.
Hillcrest has a youth program for grades K-8 run by Eddie Gist that is looking for more members and they are also trying to establish a junior high team for 5th-8th graders.
More information on the wrestling team can be found at Hillcrest Junior Huskies Wrestling on Facebook.