The Blue Devils are back. And they showed why at one of the top high school wrestling tournaments in the state.
Tucson’s Sunnyside High School carried home the crown from this year’s Flowing Wells Invitational, which drew 37 teams from Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.
The tournament, hosted by Flowing Wells High School in Tucson, is heavy each year with the wrestling powers from the southern part of the state, but also includes strong teams from the metro Phoenix area. This year, the top three spots went to southern schools, while the next three were claimed by Valley teams.
Sunnyside won its 28th title in the prestigious event that draws many of the state’s top wrestlers, but it’s the first time the Blue Devils managed to do that in the past three years. They last won the title in 2008.
Sunnyside placed five wrestlers in the medal round and captured three individual titles, scoring 224.5 points, well ahead of second-place Ironwood Ridge High School from Tucson, with 144 points. Sunnyside titles went to Kory DeBerry at 152 pounds, Cedric Gonzalez (171), and William Espinoza in the heavyweight division.
During his high school career, DeBerry has won four titles at the Flowing Wells Invitational.
Cibola High School in Yuma finished third with 140 points, and Thunderbird High School from Phoenix (138.5) and Corona del Sol High School from Tempe (131.5) rounded out the top five places.
Mingus High School in Cottonwood won last year’s event, sliding past Sunnyside by just 6 points to take the 2010 championship, 193 to 187, while Safford High School placed third.
Mingus placed 12th this year, with 101 points, and Safford managed an eighth-place finish with 124 points.
Safford’s Ryak Finch (119 pounds), was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler the past two years, but Finch has graduated and this year the honor went to Robbie Mathers from Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, who worked his way through five state champions to win the 125-pound division.
Mathers, who is last year’s 5A-I state champion, beat Louie Murillo, 6-2, in the finals. Murillo is a two-time state champion at Sunnyside HS.
Desert Vista finished in 10th with 121.5 points and four placers, and may meet up with Sunnyside again later this year, potentially crossing paths at State competition.