As they demonstrated all season long by winning the Flowing Wells Invitational, the McClintock Invitational, and the Peoria Tournament of Champions, the Sunnyside High School Blue Devils were the team to beat for this year’s Division I state title.
As it turned out, there still wasn’t a team out there up to the challenge.
Chandler High School, which last year took the title and ended a 14-year reign by Sunnyside, came the closest. The Wolves ran up 132 points, 19.5 points behind the Tucson power, for runner-up.
Two other teams scored in triple digits, as Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School took third with 127 points and Mountain View High (Mesa) picked up 122.5.
Chandler managed the second-place team finish, despite placing just one champion. But that match, at 138 pounds between Dalton Brady and Dajour Reece from Cesar Chavez High School, was the highlight of the night at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
Dalton’s 5-3 decision over Reece topped off an undefeated senior season. But more importantly, it topped off an incredible high school career that now includes four state titles – something that only 27 other prep wrestlers in the state have accomplished.
His four titles have come at four different weight classes, as he moved up each year, winning at 103, 112, and 120 before competing this year at 138.
Sunnyside placed seven wrestlers in medal rounds, showing the depth that has enabled it to dominate its matches this year, with three going on to win titles: Juaqin Olivas at 113, William Olivas at 126, and Gabriel Gonzales at 195. Desert Vista used points from two championships to earn its third-place finish: Glenn Farina at 132 and Ethan Tursini at 160.
In DIVISION II, Tucson’s Ironwood Ridge High School was even more dominant in winning its third straight state team title. The Nighthawks ran away with the title this year, posting 216.5 points to easily out-distance runner-up Gila Ridge High School from Yuma. Gila Ridge totaled 128 points, the only other team to get over the 100-point mark. Prescott High had 85 and Marana High was right behind with 81.
The Ridge had four wrestlers bring home individual titles: Tate Sandifer (138), Troy Taylor (145), Matt Filbert (152), and Scott Simmons (195). For Sandifer, it was his second title in three years.
It was a similar scenario in DIVISION III, where Thunderbird High School in Phoenix rolled to its third straight team title, leaving the rest of the field in the dust. Thunderbird won with 132.5 points and the closest competitor was Rio Rico High with 91 points.
Mark Lopez wrapped up his third straight individual title while at Thunderbird to close out his senior season. He recorded a 40-1 record this season at 145 pounds and went through the state tournament without giving up a single point.
In DIVISION IV, there was no stopping Camp Verde High School, which amassed 243.5 points to easily wrest the title from St. John’s High School, which this year finished runner-up with 195.5 points.
Camp Verde also took home five individual titles: Matt Mejia (106), Alex Casillas (113), Ryan Allred (132), Alex Anzar (152), and Heath Carroll (160). It was Allred’s second straight individual championship.