PRESCOTT VALLEY - Nearly 15 years after the death of wrestling legend Dave Schultz, Desert Vista assistant coach John Matthews wore a pair of red Asics Tiger wrestling shoes he was given during the Olympic Trials to a Thunder practice.
The very pair he wore when he beat Schultz.
So cool that junior Kendall Love slyly asked how he could, maybe, possibly, have them.
The answer was simple - win state.
Not sure when the exchange is going to happen, but it is after Love won the 135-pound Division I title Friday at Tim's Toyota Center.
"I pulled them off the shelf and dusted them off," Matthew said. "I wore them and Kendall said,
‘Those are sick. How can I get those?'
"If that's what it took, I am proud to turn them over."
Love earned them by beating Tucson Sunnyside's Andres Piedra 3-2 in the finals to become the school's 11th state champion.
"I have never seen state, never knew what it is about and my first time I am here I win it," said Love, who transferred in from Indiana where he didn't make state as a sophomore. "This is the top accomplishment in my life."
After a scoreless first, Love got an escape in the second period off the whistle and then got a takedown on the edge on his patented arm drag for a 3-0 lead. Piedra escaped by the end of the second to make it a two-point match.
Piedra (31-9) escaped with 1:42 left to close within 3-2. Love was dinged with a stalling warning but did enough to ward off another stalling call and any of the shot attempts by Piedra for the win.
"Kendall turned the corner this tournament, the most important of the season," Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said. "He showed what he could do when he is focused. I told him afterward he is now a leader and he has to carry himself that way."
Love (27-6) fully appreciates the gesture by Matthews and plans to cash in.
"What an incredible feeling," Love said. "It's an honor to get those shoes and I take it to heart. Every since I've come here I have been treated like I have never been before. There are some great people in that wrestling room and I'm happy to be part of it."