Chandler HS wrestlers end Sunnyside’s 14-year title run

Two days of history-making achievements wrapped up another season of Arizona high school wrestling, as the state championships concluded yesterday.

Friday’s Division III and IV competition set the stage, as two more four-time state champions were added to that prestigious list, and then yesterday ushered in the end of a dynasty.

Tucson’s Ironwood Ridge High School stepped onto the stage yesterday and took care of business as it so often does, winning the team title in Division II for the second straight year.

But there would be no repeat in Division I, as Tucson’s Sunnyside High School was unable to claim the championship hardware for the first time in 15 years as Chandler High collected 122 points and was able to hold off second-place Yuma High School, which finished with 120.5.

Sunnyside wasn’t that far off the pace, with 113 points, but it was just good enough for a fourth-place this year, tying with Scottsdale’s Horizon High.  The Blue Devils lost the points they had counted on when their undefeated defending champion at 220 pounds, Cedric Gonzalez, was upset by Ben Andrew from Mesa High.

Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, which won a Division I sectional tournament and was expected to challenge for the title, finished in third with 114 points.

This year’s results finally answer the question of what would happen to Sunnyside after the loss of long-time coach, Bobby DeBerry, who stepped away from coaching at the end of last season.  The fourth-place finish is the first time in more than 30 years that Sunnyside placed lower than third place.

The Ironwood Ridge win was a total domination, as the Nighthawks piled up 204.5 points, well ahead of the 150 points accumulated by second-place Gila Ridge High School from Yuma.

Three Ridge wrestlers earned titles, as Trevor Wilson won at 126, Troy Taylor at 145, and Matt Filbert at 152.

Chandler had a couple of individual champions as well, as Dalton Brady claimed the title at 120 pounds and Tristan Moran added another at 106.

On Friday, it was Thunderbird High in Phoenix pulling off the second consecutive title, winning in Division III with 121 points and edging out Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood (105 pts).  Thunderbird got a big boost from Matt Mainez, who brought home the only individual title, winning at 106 pounds.

In Division IV, St. Johns High School took the same scorched-earth approach that worked for Ironwood Ridge in D-II, piling up 236 points to run away with this year’s state championship, leaving Camp Verde High School in its dust with 169 second-place points.

Six wrestlers won individual championships for St. Johns:  Ryan Allred (120), Sherod Bride (145), Brock Crosby (152), Jared Anderson (160), Austin Davis (170), and Tyler Johnson (182).   Camp Verde picked up two of the remaining titles, as Aaron Herder won at 106 and Derrick Brown took home the 138 title.

But perhaps even bigger news at the lower levels was the addition of a 27th and 28th name to the all-time list of state wrestlers who have won four individual state titles.  Ryder Nielson from St. Johns (D-IV) accomplished the feat with this year’s title at 113 and Trey Andrews became the other addition when he won his championship for Safford High School (D-III) at 120 pounds.

And next year there may be another name to add to the list.  Chandler’s Brady, who has strung together three straight titles, is still a junior.