Sahuaro’s wrestling team is off to its best start since 1998, but Wednesday’s 63-9 loss to perennial power Sunnyside was a sharp reminder there’s more work to be done.

The Cougars, who opened the season 15-0, will have chance to get back on track at the 16-team Mountain View Duals meet this weekend, which starts today at 10:30 a.m.

“We have to wrestle more fundamentally sound,” Sahuaro coach Chris Patterson said Wednesday night. “I think part of our problem today was, not to take away from Sunnyside, but part of what we did was we wrestled Sunnyside; we didn’t wrestle the kid across from us. I think we got a little intimidated by that.”

Earlier this season senior heavyweight Kyle Jividen helped Sahuaro win the Cholla-hosted William Bell Tournament for the first time since 1997. By pinning Sunnyside’s George Ordeno on Wednesday, Jividen, who pinned his way through the state championship meet last year, improved to 58-0 since he had shoulder surgery.

“I’ve never been too worried about where they’re coming from,” Jividen said. “I still get worried before every match because there is always that chance of losing.”

Meanwhile, Marco Romero, a 120-pound senior who, like many of his teammates, started wrestling his freshman year, improved to 15-2 this year with a 1-0 decision over Sunnyside’s Constantino Murrillo.

Romero has a wrestling mat at home and practices anytime he can. He runs four to five miles a day and stays after practice to work on his escapes and takedowns.

He knows the loss to the Blue Devils can help the Cougars moving forward.

“Now we know what a D-I state team looks like,” Romero said. “Right now was a good day to test that as a team. Now all we have to do is work harder and be in the wrestling room longer.”

The Cougars have 10 seniors on the team, most of whom have four years of experience — but no more. To make up for the lack of experience, Patterson takes the team to clinics and camps in Tucson and in Phoenix.

The team attended ASU’s Hell Week Camp last June to work against wrestlers from across the country for 10 days. Sun Devils coach Shawn Charles, a three-time state champion at Santa Rita and four-time All-American at ASU, runs the event.

The trip gave 145-pound senior Parker Erbe, who won at William Bell and is 16-2, a chance to brush up on his technique. He learned new returns, rolls, pinning combinations and groundwork.

While Sahuaro still has a way to go, Romero is confident everyone on the team can qualify for the state tournament.

“We have a bunch of all-around studs. We just can’t go out there like we did today and just think of it as Sunnyside,” Romero said.

“We have to go out and wrestle each match likes it’s the state championship match.”

Contact reporter Chuck Constantino at or 954-0859. On Twitter: @CConstan3 or @azprepstar