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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Wrestling: West Valley’s Logan Utecht looking to end prep career on top of the podium

By Madison McCord The Spokesman-Review

You’d have to listen closely to pick Logan Utecht’s voice out of a West Valley wrestling huddle.

But as mild-mannered as the Eagles’ senior leader is off the mat, his abilities in the circle shout to teammates and opponents alike that he is one of the top wrestlers in any class throughout the state.

“To talk about Logan is so hard because he goes back so far,” West Valley wrestling coach Geoff Hensley said. “He’s been a part of our programs since he was in the third grade, and he’s grown up with us. Just to watch him turn into one of the most decorated wrestlers in our history is really special. He’s a quiet leader and a kid of few words, but he’s got an incredible heart.”

That history has made this season even more special for Utecht, as West Valley claimed its first regular-season wrestling league title since 1980 after an unbeaten run through Greater Spokane League 2A duals. The Eagles then backed up the league title with a district championship last weekend.

“The success this year is a product of our wrestling environment,” Utecht said. “Everyone wants to be there and wants to wrestle, so that makes me want to push harder at these events and win titles with this team.”

The challenges will only get tougher over the next two weeks for Utecht and West Valley though, beginning with the Region 4 state-qualifying tournament Saturday in Ellensburg.

Qualifiers from the district tournament, including district champion Utecht, will enter into the eight-man regional bracket against district qualifiers out of the Central Washington Athletic Conference – one of the state’s tougher leagues in most years.

“We’re going into the toughest 2A region in the state, so we have to be performing at our best to get kids into state,” Hensley said. “Historically speaking, five or six kids out of our region will be in the top 10 at state, so for us we know exactly who we are and what level we need to wrestle to.”

The top four finishers in each weight will advance to Mat Classic XXXV on Feb. 16-17 at the Tacoma Dome.

That’s a place Utecht knows well, but he’s hoping this year’s tournament ends with a view one step higher on the podium.

Utecht took third at 126 pounds in his sophomore season and second at 132 last February, with both of his losses coming to two-time champion Bryan Dickerson of Orting.

“He’s lost to one kid twice at state, and he’s a kid we know Logan has the ability to beat. And this year we know there is another Orting kid in the mix,” Hensley said. “So, we are grinding on the mat and watching tape on as many of these other kids as we can and then we know the CWAC kids we will see at regionals will be right in the mix at state as well.”

Dickerson will again be the favorite at 132 pounds, but with Utecht wrestling at 138, there will be no third showdown under the Tacoma Dome’s bright lights. Instead, Utecht’s path to a title will likely go through Dickerson’s teammate Quentin Harding, who is also a two-time champion and already defeated Utecht 10-0 this season at Tri-State.

But Utecht knows that looking ahead means nothing if he and his teammates don’t get through this weekend first.

“I preach to the guys that we have to be always working, because we aren’t at state yet,” Utecht said. “I’m gonna get these guys to keep wrestling after practices, long weekends, early mornings. Whenever we can get on the mat while we still have this time together.”

The short time left in the season is also weighing on Hensley, who said Utecht’s impact on the program will be felt long after his departure.

“After the past two trips to state, Logan knows he belongs at the top of the podium and we’re gonna do everything we can as coaches to get him there,” Hensley said. “He’s just a special kid and I’m his biggest fan. If he’s able to go out on top this year, it will be one of the most exciting moments of my 29-year coaching career.”

• Other regional tournaments Saturday: 4A boys at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie; 3A boys at University High School (Friday and Saturday); 1A boys at Quincy High School; 2B/1B boys at Liberty High School in Spangle; 4A/3A girls at Sunnyside High School; 2A/1A/2B/1B girls at Quincy High School.