It was a state championship that was 363 days in the making.
Almost a year ago to the day, Desert Vista’s Robbie Mathers missed a shot at winning a state 5A-I 112-pound division title as a freshman when he lost to Chandler’s Vidal Max Mejia in the semifinal round.
Mathers didn’t forget and got some measure of revenge Wednesday night at Arizona State University’s Wells Fargo Arena where he defeated Mejia, 7-5, for this season’s crown in the same weight class.
“It was a tough match,” Mathers said, “but, yeah, I wanted to come back this year and beat him. I knew I was going to win, and I guess I wanted it more than he did.”
It may be the last time Mathers, now a sophomore, and Mejia, a junior, meet on the mat.
“I want to get bigger and he’s 18, so I don’t know if he’ll grow any more,” Mathers said.
Mathers became the ninth state champion in the Thunder history and the first at 112 pounds.
“He can be the first one to go up on that wall twice,” Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said. “He can set the tone for everyone else. But it will be harder now because, more than ever, people are going to want to beat him.”
Desert Vista sent 11 wrestlers to the state championships, and they all have a chance to go back.
“They know what it’s like to be in the show now,” Gonzales said, “and you can’t teach that feeling. You have to be there. They also know they have to step it up in the wrestling room and work harder.”
Even though he lost to Mejia last season, Mathers had some pretty good odds to win the title this year.
“He was wrestling the state champ and you don’t become a state champ by luck, you earn it,” Gonzalez said. “Robbie took it away from him. Robbie beat everyone in almost every class this year – 2A, 3A – and I guess it would have been a disappointment if he didn’t win, but that’s not for me to say.”