Prep wrestling undergoes high-profile coaching changes


Not since Bobby DeBerry resigned five years ago as Sunnyside High School’s head wrestling coach has there been an off-season with more surprising, high-profile coaching changes.

DeBerry built his legendary status at Tucson’s Sunnyside High, which has won more state titles than any school in Arizona.  He ran the Blue Devils’ wrestling program for 17 years, during which time he won 14 straight titles and a total of 15 before unexpectedly resigning in August of 2011.

Now, the sport has lost another long-time coach – another Bobby, no less.

In May, Bobby Williams resigned his head-coaching position at Mesa High School, a role he has filled for the past 24 years.  During more than two decades, Williams’ teams won more than 500 dual matches and three state titles. His wrestlers have won 26 individual state titles and two of them went on to become prep national champions.

One of them became one of the most celebrated wrestlers in Arizona history when he won two state prep titles and an NCAA championship.  And he did it on just one leg.  That was Anthony Robles, who Williams taught a style to accommodate his birth handicap and sent him on to stardom at Arizona State.

But the difference in this case is that Williams isn’t leaving the school.  David DiDomenico has moved up from his assistant’s role to take the reins as head coach, and Williams will stay on as a member of his coaching staff.

The bond of friendship goes back a long way between the two men.  DiDomenico, who began his coaching career in 1987 at Tucson’s Amphitheater High, was an assistant on Williams’ Mesa staff from 2003 through 2007 before leaving to take the head-coaching job at Red Mountain High School, also in Mesa.

He stayed at Red Mountain for six years before re-joining Williams’ staff in 2013.

His record at Red Mountain was impressive: a 148-51 dual-meet record and three top-10 finishes at state.  During his six years there, he coached two state champions and 27 state placers.

The other significant move this summer came at just about the same time as Williams’ resignation.  This one didn’t involved a long-tenured coach, but one that was very successful in the time he was there.

Bob Callison resigned as head coach of the Mountain View High School (Mesa) wrestling program to accept a similar job with Casteel High, a new school getting off the ground in Queen Creek.  In just three seasons at Mountain View he won two D-I state titles and narrowly missed a third.

The Toros are handing the reins to an outsider.  Corey Anderson spent the last seven years as head coach at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.  During that time his teams won three state titles and he developed 18 individual state champions.

Anderson will have a stable of returning talent at Mountain View from a team that finished third at state last year.