The decision to postpone college for a year has worked out just fine for Robbie Mathers.
The 2012 Desert Vista graduate de-committed from Utah Valley in order to become a resident at the Olympic Training Center for wrestling in Colorado Springs.
The gain from daily work in the room with partners and coaches with Olympic pedigree is hard to measure when all it is is practice and workouts.
"I came here a regular high school kid and they turned me into a machine," Mathers said. "The technical part has never been better and I can't get better coaching anywhere."
Competition is rare so when it comes around, like it did for Mathers in Bulgaria last weekend, it is a chance to put all of the grinding and punishment to good use.
Mathers won the silver medal at 145.5 pounds in freestyle at the Petko Sirakov–Ivan Illiev Junior International on Saturday in Varna, Bulgaria.
“I think things are going about as good as could be expected,” his father, Rob, said. “He is taking advantage of everything he can.”
He opened with a quarterfinal win over Behar Mamuti of Macedonia, 5-2, 6-0, and then topped Sefa Askoy of Turkey in the semifinals, 5-2, 6-0.
He nearly came back with gold but was defeated in the title match by Manzala Madalin of Romania, 2-2, 2-6.
"The fans were so into the finals," Mathers said. "They were booing and cheering. It was the best atmosphere I've been around."
Mathers was cleared to compete because of a concussion sustained in his first match at the Dave Schultz tournament only after flying to Bulgaria.
“They didn’t let him do live wrestling for six weeks,” Rob said. “They weren’t even sure he’d compete once he got there.”
Mathers is headed to Utah Valley this fall to take the next step in his career. Before he leaves Colorado for Orem, Utah, there are qualifiers for the Junior Worlds in Las Vegas ahead with hopes of representing the country again.
“Robbie is very talented, but struggled with realizing he could compete with the elite,” his dad said. “(One of the coaches) Bill Zadick has been in his ear about it, telling him he is going to be a national champion, he is going to be an Olympian. Robbie is starting to understand he can step on the mat with anyone.”
Other wrestling highlights
In other wrestling news, Alex Bambic brought the idiom “I can you beat with one arm tied behind my back” to life.
The Desert Vista senior and three-time state champion recently had shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum sustained in a dual meet against Perry. The doctor said post surgery that the injury should have ended his season.
So he basically wrestled the rest of the year without much strength and did so without being challenged very often.
The West Point Prep School appointee missed out at senior nationals this weekend and won’t be fully healed in time to compete at the Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D., in July.
Lastly, three prominent East Valley coaches put together an all-state team.
Here is what they came up with.
106: Nathan Mendivil, Gila Ridge; Second team: Jacob Reyes, Valley Vista; Third team: Josh Kramer, Verrado; Honorable mention: Alex Calderon, Maryvale.
113: Bailey Janis, Marana Mountain View; Second team: Juaquin Olivas, Sunnyside; Third team: Ted Rico, Combs; Honorable mention: Kamden Krum, Basha.
120: Efren Hernandez, Carl Hayden; Second team: Austin Gerber, Gila Ridge; Third team: Gabe Galaviz, Coconino; Honorable mention: Andres Gandara, Cibola.
126: William Olivas, Sunnyside; Second team: Tristan Moran, Chandler; Third team: Isaiah Gomez, Thunderbird; Honorable mention: Jacob Swift, Deer Valley.
132: Glenn Farina, Corona del Sol; Second team: Ryan Vandall, Moon Valley; Third team: Ryan Allred, Camp Verde; Honorable mention: Troy Vandall, Barry Goldwater.
138: Dalton Brady, Chandler; Second team: Tate Sandifer, Ironwood Ridge; Third team: Reece Dajour, Cesar Chavez; Honorable mention: Eric Jeong, Rio Rico.
145: Marky Lopez, Rio Rico; Second team: Troy Taylor, Ironwood Ridge; Third team: Michael Suwyn, Mountain Ridge; Honorable mention: Curt Done, Highland.
152: Seth Monty, Mesa Mountain View; Second team: Matt Filbert, Ironwood Ridge; Third team: Richard Miranda, Westview; Honorable mention: Alex Anzar, Camp Verde.
160: Ethan Tursini, Corona del Sol; Second team: Kordell Provchy, Westview; Third team: Pierre Gaud, Cibola; Honorable mention: TJ Gudeman, Cienega.
170: Trey Ronayne, Basha; Second team: Jro Byrd, Boulder Creek; Third team: Hayden Moore, Queen Creek; Honorable mention: Felipe Nava, Sierra Linda.
182 : Alex Bambic, Desert Vista; Second team: Austin Gaun, Flagstaff; Third team: Garrett Davis, St. Johns; Honorable mention: Jacob Barger, Sahuarita.
195: Gabriel Gonzales, Sunnyside; Second team: Ben Miller, Wilcox; Third team: Scott Simmons, Ironwood Ridge; Honorable mention: Wes Westbrook, Centennial.
220: Ben Andrew, Mesa; Second team: Patrick Pennison, Rio Rico; Third team: Derek Craig, Marcos de Niza; Honorable mention: Jake Lee, San Tan Foothills.
HVY: Keyley Ellis, Gilbert; Second team: Kyle Jividen, Sahuaro; Third team: JT Bradley, Snowflake; Honorable mention: Robert Schrock, Mesa.
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