High school wrestling: Sunnyside, I-Ridge, Safford combine to send 31 to state

2013-02-04T00:00:00Z High school wrestling: Sunnyside, I-Ridge, Safford combine to send 31 to stateArizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 04, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Sunnyside has wrestled like the best team in the state all year and will try to make that official Friday night.

The Blue Devils stayed undefeated in tournaments and won the Division I, Section III meet at Phoenix Desert Vista on Saturday night, scoring 214.5 points and qualifying 11 wrestlers for this week's state tournament at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.

"The No. 1 goal was to get 14 guys through and we didn't do it, so it's kind of a bittersweet victory again," said Anthony Leon, Sunnyside's second-year coach.

Four of Sunnyside's state qualifiers won their weight classes Saturday, including 195-pound junior Gabe Gonzales.

However, three Devils lost in the finals, including 120-pound senior Sergio Miranda for his first loss of the season.

"He'll come back from it; he's a champ," Leon added.

Before the Blue Devils try to bring the state crown back to Sunnyside, Leon said they'll work on perfecting everything.

"I'm optimistic," Leon said. "We're wrestling well. We need to clean a couple of mistakes up, but I like the fight and I like the effort, and those are two things you can't necessarily teach."

Division II, Section II

With eight first-place finishers Ironwood Ridge showed no signs of slowing down at the Division II, Section II Tournament at Flowing Wells.

The two-time defending state champion Nighthawks qualified 11 wrestlers for state - seven of whom made the trip a year ago - including defending state champions Troy Taylor (145 pounds) and Matt Filbert (152).

"I want to repeat and I expect my team to be firing on all cylinders," said Taylor.

Cienega finished second Saturday and will send nine wrestlers to state, four more than last year. Individual winners Jason Ayala (106) and T.J. Gudeman (160) will lead the way

"T.J. is really focused right now," Cienega coach Marty Niblo said. "He's on target to take a state title."

Marana finished third and qualified 10 wrestlers for the second straight year.

Undefeated defending state champion Bailey Janis was Mountain View's lone winner and one of seven Mountain Lions to qualify

"Going into state with that, most likely I'll be a No. 1 seed," Janis said, "and I just have to represent that seed.

"Obviously I'll have a big target on my back."

Division III, Section III

Safford qualified nine wrestlers for this week's state tournament and won Saturday's Division III, Section III meet at Sabino.

The Bulldogs' lone individual champion was Ruben Molina at 285 pounds, while seven other Safford wrestlers finished third in their respective weight classes and Marcus Aguinaga placed fourth at 185 pounds.

"We only have two seniors out of the nine who qualified, so it feels really good," Safford coach Herman Andrews said.

Besides basking in victory, the motivation for the state-qualifying meet was an Italian dining experience.

"I save money to go to the Olive Garden - that's what gets them to wrestle," Andrews said. "After we lost a few rounds, I pulled them to the side and said, 'You don't pick it up this round, I'm not going to spend my money on the Olive Garden.'

"It seemed like a light switch went on, and everybody started wrestling."

Salpointe Catholic, Rio Rico, Empire and Amphitheater rounded out the top five team finishers.

Rio Rico crowned four individual champions: Eric Jeong (138), Marky Lopez (145), Pablo Chavez (195) and Patrick Penniston (220).

Despite leaving with the most individual champions, the Hawks finished 17 1/2 points behind Safford.

Rio Rico's Areana Villaescusa also qualified for the state tournament, finishing fourth at 120 pounds.

Get a complete list of state qualifiers from Saturday's sectional meets / B7

Wrestling state championships

At Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley

Thursday

Divisions I and II

First round followed by quarterfinals, 10:30 a.m.

Semifinals, 6 p.m.

Friday

Divisions III and IV

First round followed by quarterfinals, 11:30 a.m.

Divisions I and II

Finals, 7 p.m.

Saturday

Divisions III and IV

Semifinals, 10 a.m.

Finals, 4 p.m.

Daniel Gaona Jason Harris Chuck Constantino

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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