Wrestling brothers take top honors for ViewmontApr 05, 2021 01:26PM ● By Bruce Smith
Marcus and Moses Espinoza Owens are twins. Like most boys, they grew up with occasional bouts of laughter and fights, sometimes even testing their parent’s patience.
Now that they are in high school, their parents aren’t complaining. They are laughing more often and they’ve turned their battles into trophies for Viewmont High School and possibly even college scholarships.
Now sophomores, the Owens brothers have both already won state wrestling championships. Last month, Moses finished the season in the 152-pound division with a 28-3 record. It was an impressive feat for a sport threatened by the coronavirus, and he smiled proudly while accepting the trophy while standing on the tallest pedestal at the 5A award ceremony at Wasatch High School.
Marcus did it the year before, and had an equally impressive season before claiming second place this year in the next-highest weight division – 160 pounds. Still, he wasn’t too disappointed because he knew he and his brother, as well as Karson Rees, had added to Viewmont’s point total and helped the Vikings to a sixth-place finish.
Viewmont coach Brandon Ripplinger has had his eyes on the Owens brothers for some time, and thinks they have the potential for even more honors.
“They were interested in the martial-arts stuff, but in junior high they got into wrestling and had a knack for it,” Ripplinger said. “They have a natural ability: They’re really smart and have a strong mindset. They like focusing on wrestling and have had good opportunities to train.”
The brothers started working out at the Sanderson Wrestling Academy, a Farmington-based training facility operated by Cyler Sanderson, one of the famed Sanderson-family members from Heber City that has created so many state champions and includes current Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson.
Moses said they work out year-round with Sanderson, and didn’t stop, even while having to deal with the grueling practice sessions Ripplinger offers during wrestling season.
“I felt grateful that I could wrestle, especially this year,” Moses said.
Ripplinger was also appreciative because the Utah high-school wrestling division is competitive and includes powers like Pleasant Grove, Wasatch, Uintah, Delta and this year another Utah County school – Payson – emerged on top in Viewmont’s division – 5A. The Vikings have eight state titles in their history and are eager to add more. For the next couple of years at least, it will have the Owens brothers likely challenging for individual crowns and earning team points.
The Owens brothers do have a few eccentricities. Despite their similar size and physique, for example, they don’t want to wrestle in the same class.
“I’m a little lighter,” Moses said.
That might be on purpose. Both brothers admitted that, since the wrestling season ended, their training regimen has been more relaxed and they have gained weight.
“They did a tournament one time (in junior high) when they wrestled in the same weight and, ever since then, they try to wrestle different classes,” Ripplinger said. “They were in opposite sides of the bracket, but made it to the finals and had to wrestle each other.”
Even though they like wrestling’s physicality and the individual toughness it creates, they are also only interested in competing in wrestling.
“The football coaches have approached us. They want us to play,” Marcus said, shaking his head.
Ripplinger said besides their abilities, the Viewmont coaches like their practice habits, and the success that has followed.
“I don’t focus on my opponent,” Marcus said. “I just go out and wrestle and try to impose my will on people.”
Since both brothers share that mantra that may be what makes it so difficult to wrestle each other.
They said it all started in Texas, where they grew up. They moved to Davis County with their family a few years ago and were excited to learn of the wrestling opportunities here, starting with Sanderson’s club program. They have already started to attract attention with their club success. Their growth, experience and trophies they are starting to earn at Viewmont should should give them a good chance at a college scholarship.
“There are only a few brothers that have been in that category,” said Ripplinger, who has sent several athletes to the college level. “Viewmont has a good history of wrestling and there are only a handful of places where wrestling is a priority and the people and the community value it.
“It’s nice to have good workout partners. Everyone needs to find the right fit for them.”