The Desert Vista wrestling program is taking some flak as all good programs do regardless of sport when transfers end up at their door.

It is usually unfair to the coaches, the kids involved and it away from what is at the root of it what is truly behind the moves most of the time.

The betterment of a high school kid. Isn't that what educators are supposed to be doing?

Derek Allen is now wrestling for the Thunder. Some of the wrestling community is not happy. Tampering, recruiting and illegal contact have been thrown around on message boards as much as duck unders, rankings and results.

I don't know what happened during every minute of the Team Arizona wrestling practices as they prepared for the trip to Fargo. No one can. But I do know this -Thunder coach David Gonzalez looked me in the eye and said there was no illegal contact.

Some will laugh at that, but I had a good relationship with Gonzalez before I started covering his program almost exclusively the last two seasons at my two previous places of employment. I can read him pretty well. I think he was bothered by all of the talk, but he understood I had to report it as it is part of my job.

We had a frank discussion about it and without going into details he knows he didn't do anything to encourage the transfer of Allen from Mountain Ridge.

And how do I know? Because he looked me in the eye for every second. Good enough for me.

Not enough for you? Well, there is more.

I talked to a couple of the area coaches and they didn't have any problem with it. These were coaches who could be directly affected by the Thunder's lineup getting stronger with the addition of Robert Sobarzo and Allen.

One went as far to write a letter for Gonzalez about the situation and backed him by saying there was nothing going on from the Desert Vista end to set it in motion.

There is also paperwork from the Team Arizona practice sessions showing who coached what athlete at times during the daily sessions. Gonzalez never coached Allen's group.

Some will use that as ammunition, saying that Gonzalez knew of the transfer so he purposely put some distance between them. He's a smart guy so that's probably true.

If Allen's parent(s) approached him - which I don't know anything about but have talked to countless of coaches from every sport who say parents approach them all of the time - about transferring then he probably had the patented answer that all coaches have in that situation. It goes a little something like this: ‘I can't stop you from moving, but do what you think is best for your kid/situation.'

It is no different than what happens in the pros - Miami Heat, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Eagles - and college - the top five football recruiting classes rarely change - where a team stockpiles talent because it is the place where people know they are going to be successful and challenged to be their best.

Of course recruiting is allowed in those situations but the one common thread is the desire to be great.

Allen already is committed to West Point. Is he ready to wrestle at the level right now? My guess is no, but spending the next few months going head to head with Sobarzo, Cooper Gardner and Robbie Mathers will make the transition easier.

Wrestling is a sport that is different than all others in that teams practice together in and out of season. Go to a clinic and you ended up drilling with someone that you battled during the season. Open mats are called open for a reason. Anyone from anywhere can come in and stay sharp.

When I was wrestling and the postseason came around the number of wrestlers still competing dwindled after each tournament so we'd end up practicing with our neighboring schools just to have enough bodies in the room.

It's one of things that make the sport great. Coaches do everything they can to advance the sport and those involved. Gonzalez is no different.

He helps coach Team Arizona for that very reason - not to better Desert Vista alone, but to develop the state's top wrestlers.

And for that, all of his hard work and good intentions are being questioned.

Just look him in the eye and those questions will disappear.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or




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