The long journey is over. After eight runner-up finishes through the years, Mountain View High School (Mesa) finished the final leg of its quest for this year’s Division I state wrestling championship by doing what it has been doing all season long – winning going away.
Last month, the Toros used the prestigious Flowing Wells Invitational to cement its position as this year’s favorite to win it all. They beat Tucson power, Sunnyside High School, for that title, scoring 223.5 points to beat the defending champion by 15 points.
Before that they won the Steve Blackford Duals at Arizona State, the Mile High Challenge in Prescott, an invitational in New Mexico, and was the top Arizona placer at the Reno Tournament of Champions.
Sunnyside chased them again over the weekend at the state tournament, but had to settle for a runner-up finish as Mountain View took the title – and beat Sunnyside by 55 points this time to win its first state title in 14 years. The Toros took the first-day lead with 89 points and then cruised to the win in Saturday’s finals by totaling 197 points, followed by Sunnyside with 142.
But you had to see this one coming. Mountain View finished fourth at state last year and returned three wrestlers who placed on that team, and then added depth with a couple of transfers who were state placers in Utah. The Toros went 26-0 in duals, winning most matches in dominating fashion, and then capped off the regular season by qualifying wrestlers for state in 13 of the 14 weight classes.
The state team title came courtesy of nine placers, including a couple of individual titles and three runner-up finishes. Ryan Gallo won at 138 pounds and Blake Monty took the title at 145, while runner-ups included Paden Mason at 113; Weston Taylor at 160; and Weston’s twin brother, Kieffer, at 170.
Sunnyside had three state champions, all of whom won last year as well: Juaqin Olivas (120), William Olivas (126), and Gabriel Gonzales (195).
Ironwood Ridge High School, last year’s D-II state champion that moved up to D-I this season, finished in fifth place, but Danny Vega wrapped up a 47-0 season for the Oro Valley school by taking the individual title at 106 pounds. Dajour Reece, a senior from Chandler High, also wrapped up an unbeaten season at 152.
And Cibola High School, which had finished in third place among a field of Division I schools at the Flowing Wells Invite, won the Division II state team title in its first year after moving down from D-I to D-II. And did it in convincing fashion, distancing itself by 68.5 points from runner-up finishers Mountain View High (Marana) and Cienega High in Vail, who tied at 110.5.
Cibola, which was runner-up at state in 2008 and again in 2012, placed nine wrestlers and captured three individual titles with wins by Luis Nunez at 132, Pierre Gaud at 160, and Vicente Guerrero at 170.
And Division II had its own undefeated champ. Danny Reyes from Goldwater High School capped off a 56-0 season by winning the 220 title.