Bennion Junior High wrestles at district finalsApr 03, 2022 07:53PM ● By Greg James
Seventh grader Joaquin Ruiz took first place at 170 lbs at the Granite School District divisional. (Greg James/City Journals)
The wrestling team at Bennion Junior High School is the second largest in the Granite School District. Its coaches credit the team for its success and growth.
“With Covid we have been unable to wrestle consistently for two years,” Bobcats wrestling head coach and social studies teacher Ash Porter said. “The kids come and bring their friends. It is lots of fun.”
Granite School District offers junior high programs in several sports. Wrestling is one that introduces student athletes to the competition in hopes they will continue to participate.
“It seems that half our team are first-year wrestlers,” Porter said. “We want to win, but we like to teach the kids the fun of wrestling.”
Bennion had 25 wrestlers participate in the recent Granite School District Divisional tournament. The largest team in the tournament, Porter pointed out they had several student athletes that could not participate at the last minute.
Porter is able to team up with long time friend and a former student athlete Mason James. They both work to teach the students. Porter coached James when he was a junior high wrestler.
“I love to be out here and share what I know,” James said. “We have some experienced wrestlers on the team.”
Jaoquin Ruiz is the son of world champion wrestler Brandon Ruiz and his sister, Cheyene, is a two-time state champion at Taylorsville High School.
“I started playing rugby,” Jaoquin said. “I think it is fun to compete. As a wrestler, I am accountable for how well I do or don’t do. I started training with my dad and he taught me a lot about the sport. I think dad is my favorite person to wrestle.”
Jaoquin is a seventh grader at Bennion. He hopes to continue to participate in sports.
“My rugby team was not that great, but I really like wrestling. Bennion is a great school and I knew that they had been a past district champion. That is one of the reasons I chose to come to school here. I really like my coaches and what they teach me,” Joaquin said.
Bennion finished third in its divisional tournament.
The Bobcats had top finishers in several weights. At 265 lbs, Wes Hall finished first, Dayton Mierra third and Sam Seui fourth; 190 lbs, Dallas Nieuwland, second; 170 lbs, Joaquin Ruiz, first; 152 lbs, Lealan Holyfield, first; 145 lbs, Jason Peterson, fourth, Brayden Dukatz, fifth;138 lbs, Gunner Johnson, second, Addison Goff, third; 131 lbs, Josh Moore, fourth, Sam Farnsworth, sixth; 120 lbs, Tavion Silcox, second; 115 lbs, Ryken Watson, second, Kody Nguyen, sixth; 110 lbs, Tanner Kimball, fourth, Demi Miller eighth; 105 lbs, Junior Togai, fourth; 98 lbs, Bruno Fonesca, fifth; 91 lbs, Kayla Mardini, second, Vaimalili Malili, fourth; 84 lbs, Tanner Telford, first, Colton Cotner, fourth; 77 lbs, Thomas Gorst, first.
“We have several weights we are very good at. Some of them are bullies and really work hard to become better,” Porter said.
Granite School District sponsors its junior high sports programs as learning opportunities for its students. They offer basketball, soccer, volleyball, cross country, wrestling and track and field.
“I think our program has been a success,” Granite School District Athletic Director Chris Shipman said. “They seem to enjoy it.”
Each sporting season begins with an intramural school competition. Every student that wishes to play can join the after-school program. As the two-week trial period ends the coaches select all-star teams to compete against other schools from the district.