David DiDomenico is never short on words.
That won't be the case tonight.
Chances are the Red Mountain wrestling coach will be overcome by emotion, struggle through 10 minutes of remembrance, but he knows it has to be done.
"It's been some tough times around here," DiDomenico said. "It's been laden with thorns."
Before Wednesday's home dual against Mesa Westwood, around 5:45 p.m., the program will hold a memorial for two former Red Mountain wrestlers who have died in recent months.
Zach Marco, a 21-year-old Arizona State student, was fatally shot during a robbery attempt outside the University Park Apartments in Tempe on Oct. 17.
Seth Pickett, a 19-year-old Operations Specialist Seaman Apprentice in the U.S. Navy, died aboard the USS Enterprise in Norfolk, Va., on Easter Sunday.
Both were members of the 2007 team that finished second in the individual tournament and then qualified for the Final Four of the team tournament.
"They were two kids that were well loved and that were connected through wrestling," DiDomenico said. "It's only fitting that we remember what they did for the program."
Marco, who wrestled 135 as a senior and won two matches at the individual tournament, was anything but one of the Lions top wrestlers but he brought much more to the team then what he could do on the mat.
"Zach never quit, never complained and always smiled," DiDomenico remembered. "He didn't have great athletic ability, but you could never question his effort. And he contributed in other ways. I remember a time when the team was stressed because we were in an important part of the season. I sent them out for a team run and when they came back Zach was soaked and everyone was laughing. Turns out he jumped into a lake and swam across it. It was perfect timing.
"It took away that black cloud that was hanging over us. He had a since of timing and did exactly what we needed at the time."
Pickett, on the other hand, was everything on the mat, winning the 140-pound Class 5A Division I state champion in 2007. Where he struggled was away from the competition.
"Wrestling created a box so he could thrive," DiDomenico said. "We got him eligible, got him focused on wrestling instead of some things that could have led to trouble. He never would have got into the military without wrestling."
DiDomenico said he always knew that Pickett had his coach's back on the wrestling mat, meaning he was going to give it his best effort and come through when the team needed him.
"It's ironic that we are wrestling Westwood because I'll never forget our match against them in the state quarterfinals (in 2007)," the coach said. "We were down four points heading into the last match and Seth was the wrestler. When he was warming up I went over him to let him know we needed a major (victory for team points). He looked up at me and said, ‘Coach, I am not majoring him. I'm pinning him.' I just turned around, walked away with a smile because I knew were going to win. He got the pin.
"He had those eyes. When he was at that level, that focused, there was no stopping him."
Both have been lost forever, but this will be a chance to remember their time at Red Mountain.
"It will be short, if I can get through it, but it is something we need to do," DiDomenico said.