The wrestling postseason brings a sense of urgency.
Urgency adds pressure if it isn’t handled correctly.
Alex Carrillo just might have found the perfect balance as the Desert Vista sophomore looked a little different in how he went about his business Saturday in winning the 113-pound title at the Division I, Section I sectional at Ironwood Ridge.
He was relaxed and confident, while at the same time he opened up his repertoire and didn’t fear taking risks.
Carrillo was thriving in the moment. Not everyone can do it. Sometimes the specter of qualifying for the state tournament, a goal all wrestlers set no matter how good or bad they might be, can be too much.
It’s different for Carrillo, one of six Thunder wrestlers to qualify for next week’s state tournament, as he went to the state tournament for years as a youngster to watch his brothers before making it himself as a freshman. For him it’s the annual trip at the end of the wrestling season.
“I am just more comfortable right now,” said Carrillo, who finished fourth at 106 for Corona del Sol last year. “I’m treating it like I am wrestling in practice or against my brothers. I’m letting it go and not worrying about anything else.”
Carrillo improved to 30-7 on the season with an easy 15-5 win over Chandler’s Michael Reyes with an array of takedowns and pinning combinations, including a peterson to put the match away. He beat second-seeded Constantine Murillo of Sunnyside, 8-4 in the semifinals.
“Everything is going good,” he said. “I just have to finish it off next week.”
He will be joined at Tim’s Toyota Center by five teammates: freshman Gage McGrew (106, fourth), freshman Chad Porter (160, fourth), Jeremiah Imonode (182, fourth), Tristan Ezell (220, second), and Adam Ortega (HVY, fourth).
Thunder coach David Gonzalez was expecting eight in a best-case scenario and just missed that number after two-time state place Brian Mitchell (126) and senior Nico Campbell (138) lost in the consolation semifinals.
“I am happy for the young wrestlers, but feel bad for (Mitchell and Campbell),” he said. “They competed hard, but made some mistakes and so did I as a coach.”
Mountain Pointe only entered a handful of wrestlers because of the skin breakout that postponed the wrestling postseason for the entire state for a week. The Pride had about five wrestlers out with the skin condition and those who did compete didn’t fare well as the team finished last in the 11-team field with just three points.
The tournament was won by Sunnyside as the Blue Devils placed 11 wrestlers, including four champions for 216.5 points.
Chandler was second with 155.5 points, Ironwood Ridge, in its first season in DI after three straight DII state titles, was third with 144 points.
Other Southeast Valley champions were Chandler’s Joey Rico (132), Chandler’s Dajour Reece (152), Basha’s Robert Latin (160) and Trey Ronayne (170), Hamilton’s Derek Andresen, and Chandler’s Thomas Chisholm.
One of the best matches came at 132 when Rico, who placed fifth at state last year, trailed Basha’s Kamden Krum all match before getting two cradles in the third period with the second one ending in a pin of the former state runner-up.
“I don’t let who I am wrestling bother me,” Rico said. “We have state placers everywhere in our room.”
There were several other come back wins as Ezell lost in the last second to Marana’s Travis Howard, Marana’s Chase Meade used a quick flourish at the end for a 11-10 win over Chandler’s Estevan Ulibarri and Andresen secured a third period pin over Ironwood Ridge’s Tristan Mordecai, who was initially ejected (meaning he couldn’t wrestle at state) but the referee, after talking with his assistant referee, overturned the ruling after the heavyweight match.
The quality of wrestling seemed unfazed by the week off due to the skin breakout that forced the Arizona Interscholastic Association to cancel last week’s action before deciding to restore the season on Tuesday.
“Sectionals are sectionals no matter when we wrestled,” said Gonzalez, referring to the inequity of the DI sectionals. “It was brutal.”
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