PRESCOTT VALLEY – Alex Carrillo is taking a much easier way to the podium this time around.
The Desert Vista wrestler earned his second state medal on Friday by winning his first two matches at 113-pounds of the Division I state tournament at Tim’s Toyota Center to make Saturday morning’s semifinals.
While wrestling for Corona del Sol last season, Carrillo lost his first match of the state tournament before going on a four-match win streak to earn fourth place at 106.
“I knew I had to come out strong,” he said. “Last year, I had to battle and wrestle so matches just to have a chance.”
While he is guaranteed a place, Carrillo is far from done. He has reached a new level in recent weeks by just letting the nerves go. He is wrestling free and easy.
It’s led to some impressive wins this postseason and it is going to take another when he wrestles Mesa Mountain View’s Paden Mason (41-4) in Saturday’s semifinals.
Mason beat Carrillo (30-7) at Flowing Wells last season and again this year when the match was stopped due to a possible concussion for the latter.
“I’m a different wrestler,” Carrillo said. “I’ve been wrestling live with my brother (Timmy, a former DV state placer) and if I can score on him I can score on anyone. I am lot more confident.”
The Thunder’s other state semifinalist is senior Tristan Ezell, who has opened up his takedown repertoire in recent weeks to go along with his patented upper body throws.
“I’ve never been a No. 1 seed and I’ve had to battle my way through,” said Ezell, who finished fifth last year at 195. “I have to work that much harder. It’s OK. I got one more before I can go for gold.”
Ezell (32-6) takes on top-seeded Bradley Burston (44-1) in the semifinals.
“Tristan knows it’s now or never as a senior,” Thunder coach David Gonzalez said. “He’s opened up his offense and he’s doing things he’s always been capable of on his feet but was hesitant.”
The Thunder’s four other competitors had a rough go of it as only junior Jeremiah Imonode (182) is alive after going 2-1 on the day. He lost 7-0 in the quarterfinals to former state runner-up Derek Andresen of Hamilton.
Imonode, a three-time state qualifier looking to place for the first time, then beat Dobson’s Santiago Fierros 15-10. Imonode (35-10) has to win his first consolation match on Saturday morning to place as he faces Sandra Day O’Connor’s Chris Davis (42-11).
Freshman Chad Porter (160) and senior heavyweight Adam Ortega (HVY) lost both of their matches, while freshman Gage McGrew (106) failed to make weight.
“Freshmen,” Gonzales said disgustedly.
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.