State wrestling championships

Desert Vista's Robbie Mathers works Corona del Sol's Zach on his way to winning the 132lb weight class during the AIA Wrestling State Championships at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. Feb 11, 2012 Darryl Webb/AFN

Darryl Webb

David Gonzalez was by himself Saturday night in the bowels of Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, pacing and maybe even talking to himself.

The Desert Vista wrestling coach was definitely lamenting what could have been and, more importantly, trying to figure out how he and the Thunder can get better.

Gonzalez is no different than one of his competitors as he dissects his coaching ways and decisions.

The Thunder finished third at the Division I state meet for the second straight year, tied for the second best finish in school history, and yet it felt like a missed opportunity.

"You are always trying to find ways to get better," Gonzalez said. "We had our chance, but didn't do it."

Chandler won it with 122 points to edge Cibola (120.5), and Desert Vista was next at 114 points that included three champions and two state placers.

Gonzalez knows the lineup was missing some key components, some wrestlers didn't fare as well as expected, and yet the Thunder still finished third.

Desert Vista crowned three champions in Robbie Mathers, Robert Sobarzo and Alex Bambic, and had senior Derek Allen finish fourth at 145 and freshman Brian Mitchell finish sixth at 106.

"That's the consolation prize," Gonzalez said.

Here is a look at how the Thunder came back with three state champions:

Mathers leaves on top

The internal fire cooled and the assassin stare down disappeared.

And Robbie Mathers actually smiled while still in the wrestling arena.

It must be time for a break.

One well earned by the Desert Vista wrestling program's most decorated and accomplished wrestler after the senior became the school's first three-time state champion Saturday night.

"I am actually going to take a break for a while," Mathers said. "I don't really have anything planned right now."

There may not be an immediate plan when it comes to wrestling, but he definitely has a destination as he signed a letter of intent at Utah Valley State.

But for now, Mathers might actually walk past the wrestling room at Desert Vista and take his mind off the sport that has been his singular focus since the fifth grade.

When asked about the last time he took an extended break from the sport, Mathers laughed and said that it was back in the fourth grade.

It wasn't long after that when he met Zach Walton, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident who open enrolled at Corona del Sol, and they became training partners.

They met in Saturday's Division I 132-pound state title match and it quickly became obvious who was going come out on top.

The one with the internal flame and the assassin stare.

Mathers, who finished with 128 career wins, cruised to a 22-8 victory with an array of takedowns.

"Robbie is so focused all of the time. There wasn't going to be anyone who could stop him," Gonzalez said. "He knew he had history in front of him, and he went after it like he always does."

Returning the favor

The "Tournament of Revenge" is now complete.

And Robert Sobarzo feels vindicated.

The Desert Vista senior was seeded fourth at the Division I 138-pound weight class with a bit of an unkind history against many of his bracket-mates when the tournament started Friday at Tim's Toyota Center.

Not anymore.

While he didn't come across every opponent that had beaten him in previous meetings, Sobarzo managed to make it to the finals with impressive wins over Sunnyside runner-up Andres Piedra, who beat Sobarzo in the semis at the Peoria Invitational, and Corona's top-seeded Daniel Cartagena, who beat Sobarzo at the Moon Valley Invitational.

Waiting for Sobarzo in Saturday night's finals was Highland three-time state placer and state champion Curt Done, who defeated Sobarzo in the finals of a preseason tournament to represent Arizona.

This time around it wasn't much of a contest as Sobarzo dominated from the start, getting two takedowns before a hip toss planted Done on his back on the edge of the mat. Twice, Sobarzo picked Done up and slid him inside the line with the second one doing the trick by getting the pin at 1 minute and 47 seconds of the first period.

"Gonzo said this was the tournament of revenge and I went after everyone like it was," said Sobarzo, who finished the year with a 36-6 record.

Baby Bambic no longer

Alex Bambic used to be a little kid in a big man's body.

He had a baby face, but still held his own against kids as much as three years older in the 215-pound weight class, placing fifth in Division I as a freshman before winning it all as a sophomore.

Now, Bambic is a slimmed down, matured athlete with an "Est. 1994" tattoo brazenly inked across his chest.

And he no longer has to worry about just holding his own.

Bambic is the standard in Division I after winning his second state title Saturday night when he controlled Hamilton's Alex Burgoyne the entire match for a 6-1 win at 195 pounds.

"I've matured and I know what it takes," Bambic said. "I looked up to (three-time champion) Robbie (Mathers) when I was freshman, and how he did things. I've tried to do the same."

After becoming the school's second two-time champion, Bambic can now emulate Mathers if he manages to win a third title in 2013.

"That's been the goal after winning it last year," Bambic said. "I want to match him."

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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