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Midvale Journal

Hillcrest girl grapplers look to state for title boys seeking individual placers as they remain in 5A classification

Nov 30, 2023 11:03AM ● By Julie Slama

Hillcrest High’s Eva Zimmerman pins a Brighton opponent during last season’s Battle of the Axe win. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

While most of Hillcrest High’s sports and activities shifts to 4A region 10 this year, wrestling did not.

“So many of our teams are spread out so we’d have to travel from Logan to St. George to compete and prepare our wrestlers for the state tournament; this made more sense economically and with our schools demographics to stay closer,” head wrestling coach Nick Pappas said. 

This is the first year UHSAA has allowed petitions to change regions per sport, he said.

“4A definitely would have some challenging schools for us, but the travel would take a big toll on our students and their families,” Pappas said.

Instead, his team will wrestle west side schools: Cypress, Granger, Taylorsville, Kearns, West Jordan and Hunter high schools as well as other region schools Wasatch, Box Elder, Spanish Fork and Viewmont.

“Kearns is the returning champs so we’ll be facing some of the toughest competition in the state,” Pappas said.

The girls team, with returning state champions junior Eliza and sophomore Eva Zimmerman, were slated to open the season Nov. 29 at Kearns High. The boys open at home against Hunter High that same day.

“I’m expecting our girls to have a real shot at winning the state title this year; they’re ambitious. We’ll be one of the top five teams trying to make a push,” Pappas said. “For the boys, we’re looking to continue having them be state contenders.”

The girls will compete at several big meets to prepare them, including the Reno TOC Dec. 15-16 and the Rockwell Rumble Jan. 12-13 at Real Salt Lake Academy.

The boys’ schedule includes Desert Storm competition Dec. 15-16 at Dixie High is St. George.

The team will travel to Brighton Jan. 24 in hopes of retaining their Battle of the Axe title before the girls wrestle at divisionals, Jan. 21-Feb. 1 and the boys’ take to the mats at divisionals Feb. 2-3. Girls’ state is Feb. 14-15 and boys’ state follows Feb. 16-17. Both competitions are at Utah Valley University in Orem.

Joining the Zimmerman champions is their freshman sister, Katie, as well as senior returner Lily Hutchings and Haley Pederson. Pappas expects an impact from juniors Emilie Mower, Antonia Ingabire and Alei’a Baarsma.

On the boys team, he expects some state placements with seniors Cooper Limb and Marcus Sollers as well as sophomore Mornoni Mahe and Will Nelson.

The Huskies graduated seven varsity boys and one varsity girl. The girls team has 18 members while there are 30 boys, Pappas said. 

Earlier this fall, the Hillcrest club team wrestled on the football field in the newly formed Brunson Brawl, named for the family who had two boys (Shawn and Russell) wrestle at the school and were named All-Americans while their dad, Ross, was a head coach for the Huskies in the late 1990s to early 2000s. During the contest, the boys wrestled the Kearns club team while the girls faced Cedar Valley’s club. 

“It was more of an exhibition and a good experience for the wrestlers,” Pappas said. “It was a cool for them to wrestle under the lights and an opportunity to have it serve as a fundraiser for our team. It was a great start to what’s going to be an exciting year.” λ