PRESCOTT VALLEY – After failing to place his first two attempts at the Division I state tournament, Jeremiah Imonode finally found the podium.
The Desert Vista junior was hampered by sprained right ankle, but manage to finish sixth at 182 pounds.
“I feel like I’ve taken a big step this year and next year I am going for it all,” he said. “Getting a medal is cool, but next year I am coming for the gold.”
Imonode was one of three Desert Vista wrestlers to place as senior Tristan Ezell took second at 220 and sophomore Alex Carrillo was third at 113.
Imonode, who wrestled his freshman year at Horizon, lost 10-2 to Red Mountain’s Bryan Zobeck in the placement round.
“It’s not that I am happy that I placed,” he said. “I know I have the talent to be a state placer. I guess it is just one more stage in becoming a champion. I know physically I can be a champion so it is more about growing into a champion mentally and staying healthy.
“Everything that comes with the being a champion I have. I just have to put it to use.”
Carrillo believes he is on the same path after making the semifinals and eventually finishing third after he was pinned in the semis by Mountain View's Paden Mason.
It’s not always easy to come back strong after losing in the semifinals, but Carrillo managed to win his next two matches when he beat Ironwood Ridge’s Patrick Klass 1-0 for third.
“I did better than last year (when he finished fourth for Corona del Sol at 106),” he said. “I got jittery in the semifinals. I didn’t wrestle without nerves like I have been.”
Desert Vista brings back five state qualifiers, three of whom have placed in their careers.
“We have some good young wrestlers,” Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said. “We will be OK. The wrestling room opens Thursday.”
The numbers keep piling up against keeping sectionals – at least at Division I – geographical.
As it is now two sectionals are stacked with top programs and this weekend’s results show how uneven it really is at this point.
Of the 84 placers in DI, 35 came from Section I and 28 from Section IV, while Section III had 13 and Section II had eight.
Here is some more: Section I and IV accounted for 40 of the 56 state and 11 of the 14 champions.
For the second time in three seasons Sunnyside didn’t win a team title.
Finishing second will be considered a failure, but the Sun Devils still finished with three individual champions and nine total state placers.
Sunnyside is still arguably the most dominant sports program in all of Arizona. The Blue Devils have only had one season since wrestling became an AIA sport in 1977 outside of the top three at the state tournament.
“The biggest part of being a champion is embracing the process,” Sunnyside coach Anthony Leon said. “Something about the process wasn’t right this year and we have to correct it.”
Mesa Mountain View’s Blake Monty had a nice rebound season to say the least.
After finishing fifth as a freshman, he went 1-2 last season at season. He came back to win a state title as a junior.
In the finals he beat Westview’s Richard Miranda 7-0. Miranda lost in the state finals two years in a row now after losing 3-0 to Blake’s older brother Seth, who is now at Arizona State.
"I guess it proves I am the better brother," Blake said.
What about the fact that Seth is the school's only four-time state placer?
"I won state my junior year," Blake said. "He didn't."
Nah, that's not going to trump the four medals.
All of the state placers at the Division I 113-pound weight class from last season were underclassmen. Only one – Sunnyside’ Juaqin Olivas - placed in 2014.
Basha state runner-up Kamden Krum, Desert Ridge’s two-time placer Gary Smith, Mesa Mountain View’s Jerod Booth and Chandler’s Quincy Reece failed to find the podium and Desert Vista’s Brian Mitchell didn’t place at sectionals.
Something brewing in Anthem
Boulder Creek had a terrific weekend with four finalists and six placers.
The team has taken on coach Doug Crooks intense ways – two of the placers are his sons Cory and Stone – and Pennsylvania, where he wrestled a portion of his high school career in the 1970s, style of wrestling.
Four of the placers will be back next year.
“I am so proud of these kids,” he said.
Mesa coach Bobby Williams is a no frills kind of guy.
Especially if you look at the jacket he wears to the state tournament. It’s a Mesa wrestling jacket circa 1982 or thereabouts.
“It’s a great jacket,” he said. “I’ll retire it when I retire.”
Williams managed to produce two more state champions in heavyweight Robert Schrock and 132-pound Ben Kasprzyk. He has had at least one ever year he has coached at Mesa.
Heart of a champion
Valley Vista’s Jacob Reyes was unable to win a second state title after finishing as the Division I 120-pound runner-up, but he showed the heart of champion in the semifinals.
He was put on his back by Ironwood Ridge’s Alfredo Calzadillas and trailed 12-1 at the point in the second period, but he got a reversal and three back points to close within 12-6. Reyes proceeded to go takedowns and got four of them to win 18-16.
The AIA’s Dean Visser said he hopes state wrestling will return to Tim’s Toyota Center next year, but nothing is official. … Head referee Charlie Jones said two wrestlers didn’t pass skin check on Friday. … Queen Creek had one varsity wrestler removed from the team by the parents when the news of the skin outbreak happened.
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.