It was a night of firsts for Larry Willingham and his Sabino Sabercats as they won their first William Bell Tournament in the school's history. Cholla High School hosted the tournament, now in its 40th year.
This is also the first time Sabino has won more than three weight classes in a single tournament and the first time Willingham has beaten Pueblo in his five years at Sabino. The Sabercats won five of the six individual championship matches they were in.
Matt Repp won his 132-pound match 2-1 in overtime after finishing regulation tied at one. For three extra periods Repp and Casa Grande Vista Grande's Ralph Lopez went back and forth with neither gaining an advantage. Finally in the fifth period Repp was able to break away from a Lopez hold and score the point that gave him a slim advantage. In the final 30-second period, Repp was able to keep his hold on Lopez and win the championship.
"Going into overtime I was already drained," said Repp. "But I told myself that I had come too far to lose so I pushed myself."
The Sabercats also won the 120, 126, 160 and 220 championships. In the 160-pound match, Sabino's David Ramirez outlasted Pueblo's Geovan Armendariz 7-5 despite Armendariz's effort to nearly tie the match in the third and force an overtime period.
"It was a tough way to lose but it was a great match to watch," said Pueblo coach Steve Lopez. "All our guys did well in this tournament. There's some good competition here."
The Warriors placed sixth in the team dual, but it was their two smallest wrestlers who made the biggest impact for the team, winning the 106 and 113 championships. Alvaro Gallego won his match at 106 by pinning his opponent in less than a minute and 113-pounder Gabriel Estillore won his match 13-4. Gallego was also named the tournament's most outstanding wrestler.
Lopez has coached both Gallego and Estillore since fifth grade.
"I'm glad he stuck around to coach us," said Gallego. "He's been like a second father to me. He taught us how to work hard so that's what I did today. I won this for my grandmother who passed away yesterday, so it's that much better."
Host Cholla placed second in the team dual and had one individual champion. Lincoln Brown won the 182-pound championship with a pin in the first period.
Nogales placed third in the team standings and claimed three individual championships. Nick Colgate won the 145-pound championship, Gilbert Duran won the 170-pound championship and Nick Clark won the 195-pound championship.
The other three individual championships went to Ricardo Flores of Rincon/University at 138 pounds, Victor Haro of Tucson at 152 pounds and Kyle Jividen of Sahuaro at 285 pounds.