Chalk one up for the little guys.

“Last year our strength was in the upper weight classes,” Mountain Pointe wrestling coach Shannon Radford said. “This year it should be from 119 to 140 pounds.”

Most wrestlers don’t go from grappling with siblings in the backyard to a spot on a varsity high school team.

“It takes at least four years to fully develop,” Radford explained.

That is part of the reason why six returning seniors could be key to the Pride’s success this season.

James Carroll will be among the favorites in the 130-pound class while Anthony Navin, who was in the state tournament at 135 pounds last season, also returns to the Pride lineup.

Other veterans are the Gibson twins, Clarence and Thomas. Clarence will be in the 160-pound category while Thomas, another state qualifier last season, will go in at 189.

Joe Whitley should be the Pride’s top wrestler at 171 pounds.

The Pride could be stocking up for the future, too. Radford had 18 freshmen try out for the team this year.

Like Pride coaches in soccer and basketball, Radford may have to go through the early part of the season without a regular lineup, especially in the heavier weight classes.

Mountain Pointe’s success on the football field will keep at least three potential wrestlers off the mat.

Senior Tyrone Jackson (5-foot-11, 230 pounds), junior Adam O’Neil (5-10, 182) and Bijan Musgrove (5-11, 260) are all linemen on the Pride football team that has reached the state semifinals scheduled for Dec. 4. If they get past that game the state championship is Dec. 5.

“It’s an individual sport, so you hope they do well, but you never know for sure what you’ve got,” Radford said. “I had a better idea last year, but we’ve got a good bunch of kids to work with.”

Defending champion Corona del Sol, Chandler Basha and Tucson Salpointe Catholic should be the strong team in the state this season, Radford added.

The Pride were scheduled to open the season hosting Desert Vista tonight (Dec. 2).

Unlike last season when all wrestlers went through a three-day tournament, the top four qualifiers from each 5A-I region will make the finals.

“It’s better to have it this way over two days instead of three,” Radford said. “We hope we can get all of our seniors into state through qualifying.”

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