Robert Sobarzo stood on the mat and couldn't believe what was unfolding in front of him.
The referee stopped the match. Called him for unsportsmanlike conduct, and declared his opponent the winner. As a result, he was tossed from the state tournament, he couldn't accept his award for placing at state or be part of the awards ceremony.
His name would be stricken from the final standings and his team points taken away.
The Desert Vista senior plans on making amends this weekend.
First, the backstory.
At last year's state wrestling tournament, while wrestling for Westview at 135-pounds, Sobarzo had his sights set on winning a Division I state title as the No. 2 seed.
Problem was, he was pinned in the state quarterfinals while leading against Mesa Mountain View's Grant Huber to end that chance. So when he met Huber again in the placement match for fifth and sixth place, he was a bit amped up.
A couple of cross faces with or without intention later, Sobarzo was disqualified because the referee felt it was too much. The DQ meant that his name was scratched from the final bracket so there is just a blank spot.
Zero recognition of his season.
"The ref wasn't having it and I try not to think about it," Sobarzo said. "Last year was last year. I kick myself in the butt when (it gets brought up), but I was young. I think I've matured from it and I have learned to keep my emotions together."
He gets a shot at some redemption this weekend as he and seven of his Thunder teammates head to the Division I state tournament in Prescott Valley at Tim's Toyota Center. Division I starts at 10 a.m. and ends Saturday with the 4:30 p.m. finals.
Sobarzo (32-6) is in one of the toughest weight classes again and enters the tournament as the fourth seed at 138 with Corona del Sol's Daniel Caratgena (41-1), Chandler's Dalton Moran (31-6) and Sunnyside's Andres Piedra (32-3) on his side of the bracket alone. Horizon's Bryant Wood (40-0) and Highland state champ Curt Done (20-1) are on the bottom half.
"I'll wrestle 110 percent and see what I can do," Sobarzo said after losing to Wood, 10-7, in the sectional finals last week. "I'm pretty confident the work I put in with Robbie (Mathers) and Derek (Allen) is going to pay off."
Allen wasn't exactly happy with his performance at state last year either.
After finishing fifth at state in Class 5A Division I as a sophomore, Allen didn't place while wrestling for Mountain Ridge when he lost in the first round and then Sobarzo knocked him out in the third round of the consolation bracket with a 10-9 win.
"I never worked harder than I did this summer," said Allen, who is 25-9 and seeded seventh at 145. "I don't want to feel (that disappointment) again."
While Allen and Sobarzo are seeking redemption, two Thunder teammates are chasing history in hopes of helping the program to its first team state championship.
Top-seeded Mathers (132) is already the school's first two-time state champion and hopes to finish off his senior year with his third title, while junior 195-pounder Alex Bambic (34-4) is in line to win his second individual title.
If those two can repeat as champions, the Thunder will be among the five or six teams vying for the team title. The Thunder have finished second in 2002 and third last year, but have never won the whole thing.
To do so Brian Mitchell (106), Jacob Woelbel (126), Jimi Dixie (170) and Tristan Ezell (182) will all have to make runs to the top six, if not, find the podium to hold off teams like Corona, Sunnyside, Chandler, Mesa Mountain View and Cibola.
"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."
Mountain Pointe is in a different situation but the Pride is showing some growth in that all three of their state qualifiers are juniors. It gives the program a sense of confidence for the future with Cody Rojas (20-7 at 113), Trey Stevenson (31-8 at 120) and Blake Gaughan (23-13 at 126) competing this weekend.
"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."
Of the three, Rojas is the one who has state experience and he thinks it will allow him to be successful this weekend.
"I'm ready and confident," said Rojas, who went 1-2 at state last season. "Last year will make it easier for me because I know what to expect. I'm ready to take it to the next level."
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