Any fireworks show worth its salt has a grand finale.
And any wrestling tournament worth its salt has Sugar-Salem heavyweight Kenneth Copley.
Copley brought down the house in the final match of the Tiger-Grizz Invitational on Saturday, turning a hard cross-face into a cradle and a 39-second pin over Columbia’s Skylar Hughes.
After celebrating with his teammates and coaches, Copley got a howling bear hug from Bonneville’s Matthew Boone and a forehead swipe from Shelley’s Kolton Stacey, who was apparently checking to see if Copley had broken a sweat.
“I just cross-faced him nice and hard and the cradle was just sitting there,” Copley said, grinning. “Before the match I had decided I just wanted to get it over with.”
Copley moved to 38-0 with the pin, and was happy not only to redeem himself after a silver medal finish at last year’s Tiger-Grizz, but to test himself against new faces.
“I want to go undefeated this season, and to win this tournament and match up against some of those 5A schools is pretty cool,” he said.
Green River (Wyo.) scored a field-best 223 points to claim the team title, edging runner-up Columbia by a single point in the final tally.
Kuna and Spring Creek (Nev.) placed third and fourth with 201.5 and 191.5 points, respectively, and Bonneville was tops among District 6 schools with 152.
Copley’s Diggers tied Blackfoot for eighth with 94 points, and Snake River finished best among 3A schools in seventh with 96.5.
On the subject of 5A schools, Thunder Ridge earned its first ever individual Tiger-Grizz champion in the first bout of the finals when junior Kaden Ramos scored an 18-5 major decision at 98 pounds over Columbia’s Simon Graeber.
Ramos dominated the action throughout, and of the five points Ramos surrendered in the match, three were on uncontested escapes.
“’First in school history’ sounds pretty good, and I am glad to have the opportunity to set the standard for the younger kids in the program,” Ramos said. “I know when I shoot, I score, and I knew I could score all day.”
Boone picked up his first Tiger-Grizz title after placing second as a sophomore, posting a dominant 9-0 major decision over Columbia’s Michael Cox.
Boone continued to wear down Cox as the match went on, and punched the mat in celebration when the final whistle blew.
“People compare me to my dad because I am slow and methodical, and I wrestle heavy on top,” Boone said. “I remember coming here to this tournament watching Bonneville wrestlers like my uncle Stephen (Boone), the Jarnigans, the Birds and all those guys. I’m really happy to be part of that.”
Rounding out the District 6 champions from the annual showcase was South Fremont junior Sawyer Hobbs.
Hobbs, who had surgery two weeks ago due to a kidney issue, was limited in practice, but dominated the 182-pound bracket anyway, defending his 2018 championship with a second period pin over Green River’s Payton Tucker.
“Usually when I get the armbar, I’m thinking it’s over,” said Hobbs, who credited his father Troy for teaching him the technique at age 4 or 5. “I don’t really ever remember it not working.”