DeBerry bringing a ‘dynasty’ mentality to GCU wrestling

“Building a Dynasty in the Desert.”  That was the title on the cover of last year’s media guide for the Grand Canyon University wrestling program.

This year, the Antelopes may be able to actually begin the process.

Kory DeBerry, the four-time state champion from Sunnyside High School in Tucson, will be joining the Antelope program for the 2012-13 season after a year at Arizona State.

The 5’7″ 19-year-old, who went undefeated in 38 matches as a prep senior, was part of the Sunnyside wrestling dynasty that has accumulated 29 state titles – more than any program in Arizona.  Way more.  Winslow High‘s 11 is the next closest.

And then there’s the family dynasty.  Kory’s dad, Bobby, racked up 15 state titles during the 17 years he was the Sunnyside head coach.  The former national Coach of the Year broke the national record for longest streak of consecutive dual-match victories in 2011.

Add to that the four individual state titles won by Kory’s brother, Kyle, when he ruled the roost at Sunnyside from 2002-2006.

Kyle went on to wrestle at Arizona State, and Kory followed in his footsteps last year.  But the younger DeBerry made the decision to transfer to GCU after a redshirt season in Tempe, and will have four years of eligibility left to take a shot at winning a Division II national championship, an individual title for himself and a team trophy for the Antelopes.

National competition is nothing new to Kory; he finished third in the Fargo Freestyle National Championships and fourth in the Greco-Roman division.

His decision to transfer is somewhat ironic since his father told everyone when he stepped away from coaching last year that he would be an ‘unofficial recruiter’ for the ASU program, helping to stock the Sun Devil program with wrestlers like his sons.

Kory, in the 152-pound class, will team up with another local multi-champion at GCU.  Lino Estrada, the former three-time state champion at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, will be a redshirt junior this season, after enjoying a break-out year at 133 pounds as a sophomore.

Add to that several other transfers that will provide some immediate firepower for head coach, R.C. LaHaye.

John McCardle is a two-time NJCAA All-American who won the national title at 184 pounds last season while wrestling for Middlesex CC in New Jersey.  Fito Juarez is the California junior-college champion from Fresno City College, and he’s bringing with him the California JUCO runner-up, Gavin Ludwig.

There are 16 summer additions to the program, including a freshman class that includes Arizona state champions Kevin Hunt (Sunrise Mountain HS, Peoria), Robert Sabrazo (Desert Vista HS, Phoenix), and Steven Lopez (Rico Rio HS).  They will join the two-time Colorado state champion, A.J. Salazar.

LaHaye started the GCU wrestling program back in 2007 and has steadily been building a national presence for the school.  The ‘Lopes finished third  at the NCAA Division II Championships last season and added two individual titles to the trophy case, from Kyle McCrite at 125 and Victor Carazo at 174.

“Our program is looking to win NCAA national titles,” said LaHaye, in announcing the latest additions to the program.  “We feel with what we have returning and the new guys coming in, there is no reason we should not improve on that (third-place national finish) next season.”

DeBerry is probably thinking the same way.  It comes from growing up in a dynasty.

(Photo: GCU Athletics)