Wrestlers chase state titles starting today in PV

Prep Wrestling: State Preview

Prescott’s Gavin Nelson beats Willow Canyon’s Mathew McLure to advance to the championship match in the heavyweight division of this year’s Mile High Challenge at the Prescott Valley Event Center. He wrestles this weekend at the state tournament.

Photo by Les Stukenberg.

Prescott’s Gavin Nelson beats Willow Canyon’s Mathew McLure to advance to the championship match in the heavyweight division of this year’s Mile High Challenge at the Prescott Valley Event Center. He wrestles this weekend at the state tournament.

Prescott Valley Event Center will be rocking today through Saturday when the arena plays host to the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s (AIA) annual Division I, II, III and IV state wrestling tournaments.

The high school varsity grappling kicks off at 10:30 a.m. today with the opening rounds of the D-I and D-II tourneys, which feature the AIA’s larger-enrollment schools vying for team and individual state titles. Bradshaw Mountain will compete in D-II with two of its wrestlers.

D-I and D-II’s tournaments continue tonight at 6 with their second sessions, and they conclude Friday with their third sessions at 10 a.m., followed by the medal rounds at 7 p.m.

In D-III and D-IV, tourney action begins at 11:30 a.m. Friday with the opening rounds, which showcase the AIA’s smaller-enrollment schools challenging for team and individual state titles. Chino Valley and Prescott will compete in D-III, with the Cougars sending six of their wrestlers and the Badgers sending four of their grapplers to the mats.

“Putting six [wrestlers] through to the Big Show was a good accomplishment for the team we’ve put on the mat this year,” first-year Chino Valley coach Kevin Giese said. “Many [of our wrestlers] were a point or two [away at sectionals] from joining our qualifiers.”

D-III and D-IV’s tournaments continue Saturday with their second sessions at 10 a.m., followed by the medal rounds at 4 p.m.

Individual wrestlers in each division need four straight wins to capture a state championship. Those who lose in the first, second or third rounds in the championship bracket drop into the single-elimination consolation bracket with a chance to earn third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place medals.

For fans, the AIA admits only those who buy all-day passes. Passes cost $15 per adult, $13 per senior/military member and $5 per student. Children ages 5 and younger get in free.

What follows is a listing of the individual first-round matchups for Chino Valley, Prescott and Bradshaw Mountain’s state-qualifying wrestlers.

CHINO VALLEY

120 pounds: Wade Payne (41-11 overall record) vs. Jordan Busch (44-7) of Casa Grande. … Payne, a junior who placed third at the Division III, Section IV meet last Saturday in Payson, faces Busch, a junior who claimed second in the D-III, Section II meet.

126 pounds: Cody Jasper (34-13) vs. Brian Lujan (38-5) of Pueblo. … Jasper, a sophomore who placed third at the D-III, Section IV meet, locks horns with Lujan, a senior who placed second at the D-III, Section I meet.

138 pounds: J.C. Mortensen (23-11) vs. #2 seed Taylor Vargas (45-4) of Apache Junction. … Mortensen, a junior who claimed fourth at the D-III, Section IV meet, takes on Vargas, a senior who won a D-III, Section II title.

145 pounds: Kyle Lund (38-9) vs. Erick Cervantes (53-12) of Yuma. … Lund, a junior who placed third at the D-III, Section IV meet, faces Cervantes, a freshman who nabbed second at the D-III, Section III meet.

160 pounds: #1 seed Keller Rock (34-1) vs. Johnathan Montoya (38-20) of Lee Williams. … Rock, a sophomore who in 2017 captured a state championship at 138 pounds and is the 2018 D-III, Section IV titlist at 160, grapples Montoya, a senior who finished fourth at the D-III, Section III meet.

“Keller is expected to win a second [state] championship,” Giese said. “He has been working hard all year, and he is a leader on and off the mat.”

182 pounds: Tyler Plumb (25-17) vs. #4 seed Trequan Johnson (43-7) of Marcos de Niza. … Plumb, a senior who finished fourth at the D-III, Section IV meet, battles Johnson, a senior who won a D-III, Section II title.

PRESCOTT

120 pounds: Colton Tomitz (27-10 overall record) vs. Armondo Rodriguez (18-11) of Florence. … Tomitz, a sophomore who placed second at the Division III, Section IV meet last Saturday in Payson, faces Rodriguez, a junior who finished third at the D-III, Section II meet.

126 pounds: Lincoln Eby (30-13) vs. #2 seed Lazaro Lombillo (32-8) of Safford. … Eby, a freshman who finished fourth at the D-III, Section IV meet, battles Lombillo, a senior who won a D-III, Section I title.

152 pounds: Koby Coates (31-10) vs. Shane Cruz (46-6) of Youngker. … Coates, a sophomore who placed second at the D-III, Section IV meet, goes up against Cruz, a senior who snared third at the D-III, Section III meet.

Heavyweight: Gavin Nelson (37-6) vs. Jake Wagner (32-11) of Sunrise Mountain. … Nelson, a senior who placed second at the D-III, Section IV meet, locks horns with Wagner, a senior who snagged third at the D-III, Section III meet. At the D-III state meet in 2017, Nelson pinned Wagner in the consolations.

Prescott coach Max Payne was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

BRADSHAW MOUNTAIN

170 pounds: Parker Hines (23-27 overall record) vs. #1 seed Shaun’dell Hawkins (56-4) of Williams Field. … Hines, a junior who placed fourth at the D-II, Section II meet last Saturday in Glendale, has the unenviable task of facing the weight classification’s top seed in Hawkins, a senior who won the D-II, Section IV title.

“Parker is in only his second year of wrestling, and he may be our most improved wrestler this year,” Bradshaw Mountain coach Brad Grauberger said. “We hope he just wrestles without distraction with his best effort.”

182 pounds: Daniel Medevielle (42-10) vs. Anthony Saba (2-1) of Queen Creek. … Medevielle, a senior who placed third at the D-II, Section II meet, battles Saba, the defending state champ at 182 pounds who took second at the D-II, Section IV meet.

In 2017, Saba upset top-seeded Bears senior wrestler Olijah Sally, who later placed fifth, in the state semifinals.

“It is Daniel’s third time here [at state], so he is hoping to complete a mission and medal this year,” Grauberger said. “He’s arguably been our best wrestler all year long.”