Editor’s note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today’s list: the top 10 high school coaches in Tucson history.
This is the most difficult of 65 Top-10 lists I’ve written this summer. Who’s No. 1? I put a star next to seven coaches and thought “this is the one.”
So it took a bit to put them in numerical order, rewriting and reworking the list for several days. Ultimately, I realized there are 10 who could/should be No. 1. Fortunately, it’s just one man’s list and has no official bearing, but if I (or anyone) does this again in 2027 or 2047, I wouldn’t be surprised if No. 8 is No. 1 or if 10 new high school coaches in Tucson jump ahead of my Top 10.
But in a Tucson perspective, that’s like thinking the Yankees will some day come up with better outfielders than Ruth, DiMaggio and Mantle.
I chose Sunnyside’s Bobby DeBerry as the top high school coach, any sport, in Tucson history. The case for the Tucson High grad is remarkable.
The numbers come first: DeBerry’s Blue Devil wrestling teams won 14 consecutive state championships from 1998-2011, and 15 overall. In the two years he didn’t win the state championship, he was No. 2.
In one stretch, his teams won 421 consecutive dual meets.
It’s true that DeBerry inherited high school wrestling’s equivalent of the Rockefeller fortune: Predecessors Don Klostreich and Richard Sanchez combined to win 14 state championships over 17 years. The culture of wrestling at Sunnyside is probably Tucson’s richest vein in sports history, producing state wrestler-of-the-year types from Thom Ortiz and Eddie Urbano to Nick Gallick and Eric Larkin and far beyond.
But DeBerry took the Blue Devil wrestling teams to a higher level, as impossible as that sounded 20 years ago.
Here are my rankings