If Desert Vista is going to win its first state title in wrestling, it is going to do it without one of its top guns.

Senior Kendall Love, who won the Division I 135-pound title last season after moving from Indiana, will not wrestle in the Division I state-qualifying tournament this weekend after an injured ankle cost him his season.

Love hurt the ankle at the Flowing Wells tournament in mid-January and the inactivity in the weeks following didn't allow him to maintain his weight to try and keep his place at 126 pounds.

Love struggled to get down to 126 in the first place as I believe he only competed at that weight the first day of the North Torrance Tournament of Champions , but failed to make weight the second day and then again at Flowing Wells.

"The ankle injury kept him from working out and maintaining his weight," Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said.

Love was the odd man out in the Thunder's revamped lineup, which is unheard of for a returning senior state champion.

The addition of Robert Sobarzo at 138 and Derek Allen at 152 to go along with mainstays Robbie Mathers (132) and junior Cooper Gardner (145) gave Desert Vista a crowded core of talented wrestlers.

I am not sure if Love ever wrestled off at other weights or consideration was given to bumping everyone up a weight class as the Thunder surely would be a stronger team with him in the lineup.

I got the impression he felt pressured to go 126 for the good of the team, but we all know wrestling is an individual sport. At some point, he had to figure the heck with cutting weight and taking a shot at another weight class.

With Mathers being a two-time state champion he has the right to choose what weight class he wants to go and I am guessing he wanted to stay low in weight for his college career at Utah Valley State.

Love could have gone 138 but lost battles with Sobarzo last season when the latter was at Westview. Maybe everyone could have bumped up a spot. Everyone might not be agreeable to that of course. Gardner and Allen moving to 152 and 160 might not be ideal.

I'm just spit balling here. A wrestle off sure would have been interesting. Egos might have been hurt, but in the end it probably would have made the Thunder stronger.

Apparently, the high ankle sprain ended all of those possibilities.

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



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