BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
FARMINGTON – It’s quite possibly the biggest wrestling tournament in the state, next to the state wrestling championship itself.
The Viewmont Invitational, which kicks off Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m., has gotten so big and popular now, that the entire event has been moved to the Legacy Events Center as host Viewmont High School will attempt to stake its claim as one of the best wrestling schools the state has to offer.
The finals of the 32-team tournament will start Saturday night at 5:30 p.m.
Of the 31 other teams in attendance will be state champions Pleasant Grove, Delta, and Millard, and state runner-ups Box Elder, Layton, Payson and South Summit.
Both the Bountiful Braves and Davis Darts are also on the list of attending teams.
“We take pride in hosting an event like this because we love wrestling,” said Viewmont coach Brandon Ripplinger. “This tournament has a great tradition of excellent wrestling.”
For Ripplinger and the Vikings squad, the team has gotten off to a good start. A win over Alta earlier this season, combined with a fifth place finish at the Layton Invitational a few weeks ago, has many of the wrestlers ready and on their toes about their own tournament.
Still, Ripplinger said the tournament serves as a measuring stick for the rest of the season “even more so than before.”
“They’ve had sufficient time to get the basic cobwebs out,” he said. “Most wrestlers are starting to feel pretty good by this point in the year. This tournament cane give (a wrestler) a lot of confidence, or it can be the last real wake up call.”
Ripplinger did say, however, that placing on the podium at the Invitational lets the wrestler know they are on a good track to place at the state wrestling tournament as well.
“The tournament also carries a strong significance in the selection for the All-Star match in January,” he said. “If you want to be selected there, you must be on your game here.”
The ever-popular tournament, which typically drew a few dozen schools over the past few years, has now had the 32-team maximum last year and this year.
The full slate of teams caused the move to the Events Center in Farmington, and Ripplinger has no plans to make the tournament any bigger at the moment.
“Last year we had to decide to either trim the tournament back or go somewhere else with more room,” Ripplinger said. “The consensus was to keep it big. We could grow if we wanted to, but at this point, 32 teams is the limit.”
For Ripplinger, improvement is always key for his wrestling team. Last season the Vikings finished sixth at the Invitational, which culminated in a sixth-place finish at the 5A State Tournament.
“I’d like to see us improve on our performance at Layton,” he said. “I’d like to see a few more of our guys in the finals. I think we’re capable of that, so we’ll see what our guys come out and do.”