The Sunnyside High School wrestling program has been not only the most dominant force in the sport for the last few decades, but also the most consistent.
The Tucson powerhouse uses the prestigious Flowing Wells Invitational at the end of each season to gauge its readiness to compete for another state title. And, since 2011, the Blue Devils have either won the tournament or finished in the top three.
Coaches throughout the state enter their teams to get one last look at where their programs stand before sectional competition, and then the state tournament next month. The two-day event, which just wrapped up its 53rd year of operation, draws top teams from several states and caps off the season’s slate of major high school wrestling tournaments in Arizona.
Last weekend, for the first time in a decade, Sunnyside posted back-to-back titles at the Flowing Wells, running away from the field of 36 teams to finish with 270 points, well ahead of runner-up Desert Vista High School‘s 220.5 points. It marks the 30th time the Blue Devils have won the event, and the 15th since 1996.
Last year’s win was even more dominant as Sunnyside placed 10 wrestlers in the top six places in the individual events to tally 240 team points. Runner-up Queen Creek High School finished with 167.5 points.
For the first time in five years, Sunnyside did not bring home the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestler trophy. Roman Bravo-Young took care of that chore for the Blue Devils by winning four straight MOW honors before graduating last year, but this year the hardware went to Diego Guerrero (40-2), a senior at Walden Grove High School who defeated Sunnyside’s two-time state champion, Jesse Ybarra, for the title in the 128-pound weight class. It’s the first defeat this season (36-1) for the Sunnyside junior, while Guerrero ran his record to 40-2.
Walden Grove finished in third place (213 pts.) for the second straight year, this time just 7.5 points behind runner-up Desert Vista.
Each of the top three teams brought home three individual titles. For Sunnyside: James Brown (115 pounds), Anthony Echemendia (154), and Elijah Wyatt (184). For Desert Vista: Alfonso Martinez (147), Armando Delgado (197), and Brett Johnson (287). For Walden Grove: Owen Berry (122), Diego Guerrero (128), and Jackson Edwards (222).
For the first time, the Flowing Wells tournament included a girls’ division, which drew 13 teams. Jasmine Jacquay, a junior at Tombstone High School, defeated Lilianna Rojel, a senior from Tucson’s Marana High School, in the 145-pound competition to earn her individual title, and then was also named the event’s first-ever girls’ Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Mohave High School was the only girls’ team to win multiple individual titles, with Jazmine Lobato winning at 135 and Jazmyn Barela taking the title at 225. It was obviously a good day to be named Jasmine…or Jazmine…or Jazmyn.
This year, the Sunnyside boys will be trying to duplicate the back-to-back title wins at the Flowing Wells when they get into the Division I state tournament, which would add a 32nd state title in the history of the storied program. Last year’s title win was the first since 2013, but the Blue Devils had to push through four straight frustrating years of runner-up finishes, a difficult period for a tradition-rich program that had won 16 state titles in the 20 years prior to 2013 under legendary coach Bobby DeBerry.
The results of the 2019 Flowing Wells Invite suggest they have a good chance to pull off a repeat at state — and get a new string of championships started.