Southern Arizonans shined in wrestling this season. Four local wrestlers were crowned undefeated state champions and four schools earned second-place finishes.
The debate as to who is the best wrestler among those for individual champions could go on and on; ultimately, the Star picked Sunnyside senior 126-pounder William Olivas.
Olivas went 39-0 to repeat as a Division I state champion in one of the toughest weight classes. He was named Outstanding Wrestler at the Reno Tournament of Champions in Nevada, which featured 110 teams from around the nation. He also had strong showings at the Peoria Tournament of Champions and the always-tough Flowing Wells Invitational.
Picking Olivas as wrestler of the year was no easy decision: Ironwood Ridge sophomore Danny Vega, Sabino senior Bryson Echols and Sahuaro senior Kyle Jividen would have all, in most years, been easy choices.
Vega finished 43-0 and had a combined 36 wins by either pin or technical fall on his way to winning the 106-pound title at the Division I state meet. He was also named outstanding wrestler at three invitationals.
Meanwhile, Echols, a 187 pounder, went 46-0 to win the 182-pound title in Division III and become Sabino’s first state champion in more than 15 years. He was the only undefeated wrestler in his weight class in Arizona and was the only unbeaten wrestler in the division.
Then there was Jividen, a heavyweight, who repeated as a Division II state champion and finished off his high school career with 76 straight wins. Jividen was Sahuaro’s first two-time champion since 1976 and finished with a 131-13 career record despite having surgery on his left shoulder less than two years ago.
Still, Olivas was the best of the best and the most deserving for the honor.