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Orem • Few six-time defending champions are overshadowed or considered underdogs. Pleasant Grove, however, has been characterized all season long by those two categories.
The Vikings have been secondhand news in favor of their northern Class 5A counterparts, Layton, all season. That was exacerbated when the Lancers clinched the dual meet title by dispatching Pleasant Grove.
The rare defeat could have been deflating, and the Vikings admittedly and expectedly were disappointed by the performance. But the message from their coach, Brock Moore, returned their mindset back to positive thinking.
"After the dual, Coach Moore wasn't negative or anything. He said, 'Alright. Let's go get state,' " said senior Brandon Closson, who has won a state championship every year of his high school career.
Added Maika Tauteoli: "That motivated us to get to seven in a row."
Entering Day 1 of the Class 5A tournament at the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University on Wednesday, the Lancers again finished atop the pack with a team score of 130.5. But Pleasant Grove wasn't far off the pace with 109.5 points, which was good enough for second place with one day remaining.
"We know the tournament isn't over. It's only the first round," said Derek Fisher, who advanced to the semifinals in the 132-pound division with consecutive pins over Jordan's Spencer Maxwell and Mountain Crest's Logan Mano. "If we wrestle how we're supposed to wrestle we'll win."
Fisher said the entire community is paying attention to the results of Day 2, and this class of Vikings understands what is at stake.
"It's everything," Fisher said. "Pleasant Grove is dynasty, so we have our alumni coming everyday to practice. We're doing this for them. We're doing this for our family."
Closson, who advanced to the semifinals in the 220-pound division with pins against American Fork's Chad Bartholomew and Herriman's CeJay Hill, said Layton has earned the right to be discussed as the favorite with its consistent performance this season, but he also added: "Talk is just talk. I think we'll pull through and we'll win."
"They have a really good team," Closson said. "[The rest of the state] wants someone to beat us finally, but it's not going to happen."
Pleasant Grove's current streak of six consecutive championships dating to 2011 is tied for the sixth-longest in state history. If the Vikings capture their seventh straight, it would be tie the school record which was set from 1991-1997, which would be tied for the fourth-longest.
After the loss in the dual meet state championship, this tournament was the main message.
"Take state," Fisher said when asked what his coach told the team following the loss in the dual championship. "We can do it if we believe in ourselves."