Arizona high school wrestlers didn’t fare well last week in the Junior (16-18 yr.) division of the prestigious ASIC/Vaughan National Championships in Fargo, ND. But those in the Cadet (15-16) division had a great showing.
And one of the most recognized names in wrestling circles in the state was partially responsible for that success.
Kyle DeBerry, who won four state titles while at Sunnyside High School from 2002-2006, was in a new role as coach as he and Jim Martinez partnered on the Arizona Cadet team. DeBerry is coaching at Desert Edge High School in Goodyear and Martinez coaches at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe.
DeBerry stepped into coaching after wrestling four years at Arizona State University, where he wrapped up a career that finished with a 33-35 record after struggling with injuries during his junior year and never getting over the .500 mark in any one season. But the family name is synonymous with the sport of wrestling. His father, Bobby, won 15 state titles in his 17 years as head coach at Sunnyside and was a national coach of the year; his younger brother, Kory, was also a four-time state champion at Sunnyside.
What he and Martinez accomplished this year at Fargo has sparked optimism for a resurgent wrestling outlook here in the state. While the juniors managed just a 30th place finish out of a field of 33 teams in the freestyle competition, the Cadet squad came home with a 6th place in Greco-Roman and a 10th place in freestyle.
The juniors weren’t included in the freestyle competition this year. Their best finish in recent years came in 2011 when Kory DeBerry‘s third place at 152 pounds helped the Arizona squad to a 16th place finish in the Greco-Roman competition.
The national event, the summer’s biggest tournament each year and known to the wrestling community simply as “Fargo”, is the largest wrestling tournament in the world. Its size increased again this year with 4,152 entries from 46 states and Puerto Rico, competing on 23 wrestling mats scattered throughout the Fargodome at North Dakota State University.
Teams that participate are members of USA Wrestling’s state associations and participants are selected based on the results of qualifying events in each state. Team Arizona normally carries 40-50 athletes, although there were closer to 60 on last year’s roster.
While there was just one All-American among the Arizona competitors in the Junior division, there were six in the Cadet division – which set a record for the state, eclipsing the previous best of five All-America honors in 2002.
Seth Monty from Mountain View High School in Mesa, who will be wrestling for Arizona State this year, took the lone All-American honor in the Junior division with a seventh-place finish. The top eight wrestlers in each weight class earn All-America distinction.
Four of the Team Arizona members picked up All-America honors in both freestyle and Greco: Danny Vega from Ironwood Ridge High in Tucson, who won the national title at 100 pounds in freestyle and finished second in Greco; Quentin Hovis from Gilbert, who took third in Greco and fifth in freestyle at 106; Josh Kramer from Verrado High in Buckeye at 113, who finished seventh in freestyle and eighth in Greco; and Bridger Barker from Corona del Sol, who was runner-up at 170 in freestyle and finished fourth in Greco.
The other three All-Americans earned their distinctions in Greco: Ted Rico from Combs High School, with a seventh place at 113; Vicente Guerrero from Cibola High in Yuma, who took second at 160, and Blake Smith from Sabino High in Tucson, who finished with an 8th place at 182.
The sixth-place finish in the Greco competition is the best the Arizona programs have managed at Fargo, jumping over the previous-best ninth place turned in by the 2002 team.
(Photo: Fargo Nationals /WIN magazine)