Gaona in the Game: Sunnyside returns to its winning ways

2013-01-11T00:00:00Z Gaona in the Game: Sunnyside returns to its winning waysDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star
January 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Sunnyside's wrestling legacy took some serious hits last season.

Among the near-knockout punches were a fourth-place finish at the Division I state meet to snap a run of 14 straight titles, failing to crown an individual state champion for the first time since 1977 and losing a dual meet at home for the first time in 35 years.

Yet, the Blue Devils never disappeared.

Despite last year's struggles, Sunnyside is still king when it comes to wrestling.

Over the next four weeks, the Blue Devils have a chance to confirm it, too.

"We've always had a target on our back," said Anthony Leon, the team's second-year coach. "I don't think it has changed."

Sunnyside will try to win next week's Flowing Wells Invitational, which is considered one of the toughest - if not the toughest - meets of the year.

Four days after that, the Blue Devils will travel to Division II power Ironwood Ridge; there, they'll try to avenge a 41-22 loss at Sunnyside last season, the team's first loss at home since the 1976-77 season.

The Nighthawks have won back-to-back state titles and are likely headed for a third, so a win there would be huge for the Blue Devils.

A win at the two-day Flowing Wells meet wouldn't be Sunnyside's first significant victory this year.

It would, however, give the team plenty of momentum as it heads into the sectional and state tournaments which begin Feb. 2.

The Blue Devils have yet to lose a tournament. They recently took the 35-team Peoria Tournament of Champions by 118.5 points, with six wrestlers winning their weight classes. Among them were Sergio Miranda (120 pounds), Raul Moraga (138 pounds) and Gabe Gonzalez (195 pounds); all are undefeated this year.

Last month, Sunnyside edged Chandler, last year's Division I champion, by 11.5 points to win the 31-team Tempe McClintock Invitational. Miranda and Moraga also won their weight classes.

Two weeks before that, Sunnyside won the Phoenix Deer Valley 28th Skyhawk Classic. Included in the 13-team field was Yuma Cibola, which finished second in Division I.

While Leon said his team is only as good as the last team it beat, winning is clearly back to being the norm for the Blue Devils.

It will surely also be the expectation when they take the mat four weeks from today in the state finals.

"All 14 weight classes we've got guys who expect to win," Leon said. "That's what it takes."

Top Texas wide receiver transferring to Lancers

One of the top wide receivers in Texas is transferring to Salpointe Catholic, according to a report from Scout.com's Greg Biggins.

Kaelin Deboskie led Colleyville's Heritage High School as a junior, catching 72 passes for 1,218 years and 10 touchdowns.

Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said he couldn't go into detail because Deboskie, whose family is originally from Tucson, has not officially enrolled at Salpointe, which started its spring semester Monday.

Deboskie is interested in six colleges, according to Scout.com, including Arizona and Arizona State. He doesn't have any offers yet.

MLK Classic's seven-game schedule announced

The seven MLK Classic games to be played at McKale Center on Jan. 21 were announced in a press release Thursday.

Here's a look at the matchups: Desert Christian vs. Empire girls, 11 a.m.; Canyon del Oro vs. Cholla boys, 12:30 p.m.; Salpointe Catholic vs. Flowing Wells girls, 2 p.m.; Palo Verde vs. Santa Rita boys, 3:30 p.m.; Tucson vs. Mesa Dobson girls, 5 p.m.; Sabino vs. Catalina Foothills boys, 6:30 p.m.; and Nogales vs. Amphitheater boys, 8 p.m.

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