If you thought the Sunnyside High School wrestling program was going to go quietly into the night after three decades of domination… think again.
The Tucson school won eight consecutive state titles in the ’80s under head coach Don Klostreich, opened the ’90s with five straight under Richard Sanchez, and then turned the program over to Bobby DeBerry, who went on to win 15 more in his 17 years at the helm.
But a major change in the program last year punctured that aura of invincibility.
DeBerry resigned after the 2010-2011 season. He had won 14 straight titles and was looking for other challenges.
That was also the season that marked the last of the DeBerry boys going through the program. Bobby’s two sons, Kyle and Kory, had each won four straight state championships in their respective weight classes and were the anchors for some of the school’s best teams.
So when Anthony Leon stepped up to take DeBerry’s place, there were the obvious questions about whether the program could continue its dominance on the mats.
Those doubts were magnified last year when the Blue Devils finished in fourth place at the state tournament, the first time in more than 30 years that the storied program had posted anything less than third place.
But those questions about the viability of the Sunnyside program going forward were erased over the weekend when the Blue Devils moved through the field of 31 teams at the McClintock Wrestling Invitational to claim this year’s crown after finishing 11.5 points ahead of runner-up Chandler High School, which tallied 218.5 points.
The win is particularly significant since Chandler is the team that broke Sunnyside’s 14-year state title reign last year by winning the Division I championship. Sunnyside’s win at the McClintock served notice that the Blue Devils want their title back.
Chandler’s outstanding senior, Dalton Brady, continued his tune-up for a fourth straight state title, winning at 133 pounds; last season’s title was at 120. He was joined by teammate, Dalton Moran, who won at 153.
Sunnyside placed two individual winners as well: Sergio Miranda at 127 and Raul Moraga at 139. But the Blue Devils demonstrated their depth as well, with eight semi-finalists.
Rounding out the winners in the other weight classes: Alejandro Calderon, Maryvale HS (107); Ted Rico, Combs HS (114); Daniel Ramirez, Red Mountain HS (121); Justin Parada, Perry HS (146); Mason Darveaux, Highland HS (161); Trey Ronayne, Basha HS (183); Travis Howard, Marana HS (196); Derek Craig, Marcos de Niza HS (221); and Keyley Ellis, Gilbert HS (Hvywt).
Bobby DeBerry hasn’t left wrestling, or the prep scene. He’s now the head coach at Tucson High – where he has apparently found the new challenges he was seeking.
But it would appear, after all, that he has left Sunnyside in good hands.