Nighthawks captains Matt Filbert, left, and Troy Taylor work on takedowns during practice as Ironwood Ridge prepares for Saturday's sectional meet at Flowing Wells.


Ironwood Ridge qualified 13 wrestlers for the state tournament at sectionals last year before going on to win its second straight Division II state crown.

Nighthawks coach Tim Berrier expects a similar result Saturday.

"We got 12 kids that we are going to enter in 12 weight classes and I'm planning on taking 12 (to state)," Berrier said.

Despite recently dropping a dual to Division I power Sunnyside and placing fifth at the Flowing Wells Invitational, I-Ridge isn't panicking as it heads into sectionals.

However, the Nighthawks do admit they could improve in four areas to win their third straight team title:

Leg attacks

Ray Nunamaker, a part-time assistant coach, stressed the importance of leg defense and attacks during practice.

"You got to have a leg attack if you want to win state," Nunamaker said.

Senior Matt Filbert, a defending 152-pound state champion and back-to-back Flowing Wells winner echoed his coaching staff about working on leg attacks.

"First off, that means being confident in our shots," Filbert said.

"I need to work on wrestling smart and not making any mistakes, getting the first takedown and controlling the match."


Senior 145-pounder Troy Taylor, also a defending state champion, said he and his teammates need to stay out of their own heads in order to bring home a state championship.

"Mentally we play a lot of games with ourselves up there," Taylor said. "Just get calm before the match and not psych ourselves out because we seem to do that a lot."

As captains, Taylor and Filbert along with fellow senior Tate Sandifer know they have a big role in keeping the team focused.


Sandifer, a state runner-up last season, said cardio has been his focus leading into sectionals and state. He is 30-5 and wants to be in the best shape heading into the next two weekends.

"Just keep going and going until I'm at the pace in a match where I can go six minutes," the 138-pounder said. "(So) I can go the entire match without gassing out or anything. Just getting the job done."


Filbert, who is 29-3 this year, is not looking at the negatives about finishing fifth as a team at Flowing Wells and losing at home to Sunnyside.

Instead, he sees it like a blessing in disguise and said it has helped the team "work harder and wrestle smarter."

"It is a wake-up call," Filbert said, "One we'd rather have now than at state. If you're going to make a mistake, we'd rather do it before sectionals and state.

"It kind of revealed what we need to work on because we hadn't been challenged like that the rest of the season."

If you go

Division II, Section II meet

• Where: Flowing Wells High School

• When: All day Saturday, starting at 9 a.m.

Division III, Section III meet

• Where: Sabino High School

• When: All day Saturday, starting at 9 a.m.

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