They’re still shuffling the deck at the Flowing Wells Wrestling Invite.
This year it was Mesa’s Mountain View High School that took its turn at holding off Tucson’s Sunnyside High at the 48th annual Flowing Wells Invitational, the prestigious tournament that annually caps off the season’s slate of major high school wrestling events.
Sunnyside, the dominant prep program that won 14 straight state titles before long-time head coach Bobby DeBerry left the program in 2011, had won eight Flowing Wells titles in 12 years prior to that, but has been unable to put together back-to-back titles since then. The Blue Devils were Flowing Wells champions in 2011 and again in 2013, but Ironwood Ridge interrupted the pattern by winning in 2012 and now Mountain View has taken over this year.
The wins by Mountain View and Ironwood Ridge were the first-ever for both schools at the Flowing Wells Invite. The tournament features the best wrestlers and teams the state of Arizona has to offer, with 37 schools from all divisions competing in head-to-head competition for two days at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson. The event provides a preview of what to expect at the state tournament that is just weeks away.
Last year, Sunnyside turned in a dominant performance, as 10 Blue Devil wrestlers finished in the top six places in their respective weight divisions; their 240 team points far outdistanced runner-up Mountain View.
This year, Mountain View won the weekend event in much the same way, scoring 223.5 points to turn the tables on Sunnyside, which had to settle for second place with 208.5 points. Seven Mountain View wrestlers placed and Paden Mason brought home the lone individual championship, winning at 115 pounds.
lronwood Ridge finished in fifth place with 161 points, behind third-place Cibola High from Yuma (190.5) and Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School (176.5).
Mountain View and Sunnyside entered the tournament as the logical favorites after the Toros were coming off wins at the Steve Blackford Duals and the Mile-High Challenge, and Sunnyside had built some momentum by winning the 31-team Peoria Invitational.
Sunnyside was one of three schools with more than one individual champion at Flowing Wells, as William Olivas won at 128 and Gabriel Gonzales at 197. Chandler High also had two title winners: Estevan Ulibarri at 140 and Dajour Reece at 154.
But it was Cibola High that claimed the most individual titles this year, winning three: Luis Nunez at 134, Pierre Gaud at 162, and Vicente Guerrero at 172.
Quentin Hovis was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler. The freshman from Seton Catholic in Chandler, wrestling at 122 pounds, has lost just one time in 40 matches this season and is expected to cap his first year in high school with a state championship next month.
Cibola, which dropped down from Division I to Division II this season, finished third at Flowing Well this year. The Raiders have finished in the top five each of the past four years and may be due to ascend to the top of the winner’s platform next year.
But, based on recent history, they may have to wait for Sunnyside to take its turn again next year.