It took two major tournaments to get a good read on the Division I high school wrestling field as Arizona teams begin preparation for state competition, which begins in about three weeks.
But after the Peoria Invitational and the Flowing Wells Invite, the two major high-profile events during the final weeks of the season, the wrestling landscape looked pretty much the same as when the schedule began.
The early-season D-I favorites – Sunnyside High School, Ironwood Ridge High School, and Mountain View High School (Mesa) – all took care of business.
Sunnyside won the Peoria Invite, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary, but the Blue Devils didn’t have a chance to test themselves against all of the top contenders – despite the fact that the event drew a field of 35 teams from schools across Arizona, as well as a half-dozen entrants from California, Colorado, and Nevada.
The Tucson school brought just a dozen wrestlers to the tourney, but was able to walk away with this year’s title by scoring 197 points to narrowly beat runner-up Liberty High, a top D-II team from Peoria. The only other Arizona team in the top five was Mesa’s Red Mountain High School, which took fourth with 157 points.
But noticeably absent in the field of teams were the top-ranked teams in Division I, Ironwood Ridge and Mountain View. Both teams, however, were among the competitors a week later at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson.
The Flowing Wells Invitational annually draws top teams from several states and caps off the season’s slate of major high school wrestling tournaments. Last year, Mountain View won its second straight tourney title by running away from the rest of the field of 38 teams, posting five first-place winners and placing nine wrestlers in the top five of their respective weight classes.
This year, however, they had to make way for a new champion. Ironwood Ridge led the tournament field after the first day of competition, holding a 130.5 – 117.5 lead over Mountain View, and closed out the two-day event with a final tally of 222.5 points to de-throne the Toros and claim its first Flowing Wells title since 2012.
Mountain View took second with 211 points and Sunnyside, which won the title in 2013, finished in third place with a score of 170.5.
Ironwood Ridge and Sunnyside each had two individual winners: Ridge’s Danny Vega at 115 pounds and Jeremy Berson at 172, and Sunnyside’s Roman Bravo-Young at 122 and David Salazar at 128. Mountain View’s lone winner was Jerod Booth, who took the 140-pound title.
Mountain View also had a pair of runner-up finishes, with Rylan Evans finishing second at 122 and Anthony Wokasch at 154. Ironwood Ridge picked up three second-place finishes: Josiah Kline (134), Kyle Taylor (147), and Jacob Mansman (184).