With a light lineup and its state title aspirations fleeting, the Desert Vista wrestling team needed big-time efforts from the non-decorated wrestlers in the lineup.
If the trio of Brian Mitchell, Jacob Woelbel and Tristan Ezell can continue the level of effort and success in the state tournament they showed over the weekend, the Thunder just might get a shot at the elusive first state title.
They helped the Thunder win the Division I, Section III tournament team title on Saturday by setting new personal standards.
"That's what we need," Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said. "If they can continue progressing and wrestling at that level we can still make a run at it."
Desert Vista, which was missing three regulars with state experience, finished with 192.5 points to beat Horizon (186.5) and Mesa Mountain View (181). The Thunder will have eight competitors at the Division I state tournament on Friday at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott.
Robbie Mathers (132) won the sectional and will go for his third state title, while Alex Bambic (195) will try to become the school's second two-time state champion, joining Mathers, after winning sectionals.
The other sectional champ was Mitchell, who beat Boulder Creek's Brandon Tibbs 5-3 in the finals.
"My coaches did everything they could to get me ready," he said. "As long as I can keep following their lead I can get better. As a freshman I didn't know if I'd even place (at the beginning of the year) at sectionals and now I'll get a good seed at state."
The Thunder's other placers were runner-ups Robert Sobarzo (138), Derek Allen (145) and Ezell. Jimi Dixie (170) and Woelbel (126) finished third.
Woelbel has been solid all year when given a chance, but was mostly a backup behind returning state champion Kendall Love, who couldn't go because of an ankle injury that led to weight issues.
Ezell showed some signs of putting it all together as he made the finals as the 14th seed by beating the third seed on Friday and the second seed in the semifinals before falling to Horizon's Jeremiah Imonode, 7-3, in the finals.
"It was my best, most consistent tournament," Ezell said. "I'm a sophomore wrestling at a heavy weight class. When I make mistakes the juniors and seniors make me pay, but I put it together and my confidence is high."
Sobarzo and Allen lost difficult matches against the projected champions from respective weight classes.
Sobarzo started slow against Horizon's Bryant Wood, who led 6-2 and 9-5. Sobarzo ended with a 10-7 loss but will be confident if another matchup happens next week.
"I felt him break," Sobarzo said. "I just have to break him earlier next time."
One of the better matches of the night had some controversy as Allen had Mesa Mountain View's returning state champion Seth Monty on the ropes before falling 4-3 in three overtimes.
It was scoreless after two periods when Allen chose down, which went against the grain considering Monty's strength is being on top as he loves to crank the cross-body.
With that said, Allen got a reversal with 51 seconds left in the match for the 2-0 lead. Monty was able to escape with 14 seconds left. Allen was being defensive when he was called for stalling just five seconds later.
When Monty went for a desperation headlock, Allen, trying not to give up the big move went out of bounds, was called for fleeing with two seconds left to tie it.
In the third OT, Monty got a reversal for a 4-2 lead with 14 seconds left. Monty was called for stalling with 6 seconds left to make it 4-3 but Allen couldn't escape to tie it.
"I'll just use it as motivation," Allen said of the defeat.
Mountain Pointe finished 12th overall and will have three competitors at state in juniors Cody Rojas (113), Trey Stevenson (120) and Blake Gaughan (126).
Of the three competitors only Rojas has been there before and he plans on putting it to good use.
"I'm ready and confident," said Rojas, who beat Boulder Creek's Kyle Fantin 15-9 for third place. "Last year will make it easier for me. I'm ready to take to take it to the next level."
Stevenson, who finished third, and Gaughan, who finished fifth, will have to build off this week's success as Stevenson struggled at sectionals last year and Gaughan wasn't even a full-time varsity wrestler a year ago.
Gaughan won his match for fifth place with a back-and-forth 15-10 battle over Westwood's Frankie Ortega to assure himself of a spot in Prescott.
"I got my tough triangle there," Mountain Pointe coach Shannon Radford said. "They are all back-to-back-to-back and really push each other. It worked out great especially since they are all juniors."
Conact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.
1. Desert Vista 192.5; 2. Horizon 186.5; 3. Mesa Mountain View 181; 4. Sandra Day O'Connor 148; 5. Mesa 131; 6. Brophy 120; 7. Red Mountain 107; 8. Boulder Creel 93; 9. Desert Mountain 85.5; 10. Mountain Ridge 84.5; 11. Westwood; 12. Mountain Pointe 59.5; 13. Pinnacle 51.5; 14. Chaparral 42; 15. North Canyon 27.5.
106 - Mitchell (DV) dec. Tibbs (BC), 5-3. Third - Rich (SDO) maj. dec. Stevens (Mesa mtV), 12-0. Fifth - Clary (Pinnacle) dec. Whipple (NC), 6-2.
113 - Matt (Horizon) dec. Bigelow (SDO), 7-3. Third - Rojas (MP) dec. Fantin (BC), 15-9. Fifth - Ortega (West) dec. Mostoller (MR), 6-1.
120 - Robertson (West) maj. dec Maxson (Horizon), 13-2. Third - Stevenson (MP) dec. Hale (Mesa), 3-2. Fifth - Threet (Mesa Mtv).
126 - Penunuri (Mesa MtV) by default over Rollins (SDO). Third - Woelbel (DV) pin Kasprzyk (Mesa), :38. Fifth - Gaughan (MP) dec. Ortega (Westwood), 15-10.
132 - Mathers (DV) maj. dec. Walborn (Brophy), 15-6. Third - Nielson (Mesa MtV) maj. dec. Prather (Red Mtn), 11-3. Fifth - Soos (Mtn Ridge) dec. Anaya (Mesa), 11-6.
138 - Wood (Horizon) dec. Sobarzo (DV), 10-7. Third - Suwyn (Mtn Ridge) dec. Monty (Mesa Mtv), 8-4. Fifth - Luker (SDO) dec. Lantz (Red Mtn), 4-0.
145 - Monty (Mesa MtV) dec. Allen 4-3 3OTs. Third - Michels (Des Mtn) dec. Schmidt (Brophy), 9-4. Fifth - Bolton (Horizon) dec. Peters (SDO), 11-7.
152 - Imonode (Horizon) dec. Varner (Brophy), 5-2. Third - Pyper (Mesa) dec. Turk (SDO), 4-1. Fifth - Turk (SDO) dec. Setter (BC), 1-0.
160 - Coleman (Mesa) dec. Vermeesch (Pinnacle), 12-7. Third - Stratton (Red Mtn) . Fifth - Dominguez (SDO) dec. Huber (Mesa MtV), 3-2.
170 - Patrick (Des Mtn) dec. Ryan (Horizon), 13-11 OT. Third - Dixie (Desert Vista) pin Nevitt, 3:18. Fifth - Grasser (Westwood) dec. Gonzales (Mtn Ridge), 7-3.
182 - Imonode (Horizon) dec. Ezell (DV). 7-3. Third - Cantelme (BC) . Fifth - Wellman (Pinnacle) .
195 - Bambic (DV) pin Villa (Des Mtn), 5:28. Third - Mosier (Brophy) pin Posiall (SDO), 2:03. Fifth - Burgan (Westwood) dec. Huber (Mesa MtView), 5-3.
220 - Andrew (Mesa) dec. Vazquez (Mtn Ridge), 7-2. Third - Frank (Brophy) dec Paterno (BC), 4-1. Fifth - Overley (Mesa MtV) dec. Kiel (Pinnacle), 3-1.
HVY - Kaledjian (Red Mtn) dec. Uasike (Red Mtn), 7-4 3OT. Third - Los (Horizon) by default over Zismann (SDO). Fifth - Schrock (Mesa) dec. Cervantes (Westwood), 9-4.
106 - Mitchell (DV) dec. Whipple (NC), 6-0; Tibbs (BC) dec. Clay (Pinnacle), 8-3.
113 - Matt (Horizon) maj. dec. Rojas (MP), 2:20; Bigelow (SDO) dec. Ortega (West), 9-3.
120 - Roberston (West) dec. Hale (Mesa), 8-1; Maxson (Horizon) dec. Stevenson (MP), 11-5.
126 - Rollins (SDO) pin Woelbel (DV), :40. Penunuri (MtV) dec. Kasprzky (Mesa).
132 - Mathers (DV) pin Anaya (Mesa), 3:01; Walborn (Brophy) dec. Soos (MRidge), 6-0.
138 - Wood (Horizon) maj. dec. Monty (Mesa MtV), 15-3; Sobarzo (DV) maj. dec. Luker (SDO), 14-6.
145 - Monty (Mesa MtV) dec. Michels (DMtn), 8-2; Allen (DV) dec. Schmidt (Brophy), 4-3.
152 - Imondoe (Horizon) dec. Mason (MtV), 24-10; Varner (Brophy) dec. Pyper (Mesa), 15-7.
160 - Coleman (Mesa) dec. Stratton (Red Mtn), 5-3; Vermeesch (Pinnacle) dec. Huber (Mesa MtnV), 7-6.
170 - Ryan (Horizon) tech. fall Nevitt (NC), 19-4; Patrick (DMtn) pin Grasser (Westwood), 2:48.
182 - Immonde (Horizon) dec. Olson (Des Mtn), 3-1; Ezell (DV) pin Cantelme (BC), 4:53.
195 - Bambic (Desert Vista) pin Huber (Mesa MtvV), 1:11; Villa (Des Mtn), 13-7.
220 - Andrew (Mesa) pin Frank (Brophy), :34; Vazquez (MRidge) maj. dec. Kiel, 8-0.
HVY - Kaledjian (Rd Mtn) dec. Los (Horizon), 4-2; Uasike (Mesa MtV) by default over Zismann (SDO).