Transforming from a somewhat plump freshman to a svelte three-time state wrestling champion has given Alex Bambic one of the most unique — and successful — careers in Arizona wrestling history.
The Desert Vista senior finished it off Friday night at Tim’s Toyota Center when he beat Chandler’s Joe Miranda 11-5 for the Division I 182-pound title.
It was hard to envision Bambic doing just that four years ago.
Not winning a state title, he proved that it was only a matter of time as a freshman when he made the state semifinals at 215 pounds before finishing fifth.
He came back and won the title at 215 as a sophomore, then 195 as a junior before trimming down to 182 this year.
“I expected him to be a heavyweight by this time,” Thunder coach David Gonzales said. “I have never heard of it. He has to be one of the first, if not the first (to win three titles at a lower weight each season). It has worked out good for him.”
Bambic finished the year 29-1 and became just the second Thunder wrestler to win three state titles (no one has won two) matching Robbie Mathers, who completed the feat last year.
“It feels good to finally do it,” said Bambic, who pinned Miranda last week in the sectional finals. “I was feeling pressure and came out tight. I didn’t wrestle like I wanted, but I got the job done.”
That might be what defines Bambic the most. His work ethic is relentless and he has had to adapt his styles as he dropped weight classes. Put a task in front of him and consider it done.
“He is really good at doing what is asked of him and asks questions if something doesn’t feel right,” Gonzalez said. “He is going to make sure he is prepared and get it taken care of.”
Bambic, who is getting late college interest, said he knew this day was possible — not the weight loss — but the status as a three-timer during his first state tournament.
“I was beating seniors and knocking off people they didn’t expect me to,” he said. “After that I knew I was going to be pretty good.”
Desert Vista’s Tristan Ezell and Brian Mitchell did exactly what high school athletes are supposed to do each year.
While they may walk away from the Division I state championships at Tim’s Toyota Center disappointed Friday, the reality is they improved on last year’s effort.
“I did better than last year, and hopefully I can do it again next year,” Mitchell said. “I am always thinking about my last match. It was a loss so I am going to work harder in the room and win state next year.”
Mitchell, a sophomore, has made the state semifinals both seasons but this time he was able to refocus and wrestle well in the consolations to finish fourth at 113 pounds.
He moved two spaces higher on the podium after finishing sixth as a freshman.
“It’s what it is all about,” Gonzalez said. “They both improved and it is something to build on as our leaders next year.”
Ezell qualified for state last year as a sophomore, but didn’t place. This time around the 195-pounder was able to finish fifth.
Desert Vista senior Cooper Gardner (138) and sophomore Jeremiah Imonode (170) were in Friday morning’s consolations, but were unable to find placement.
Add in Bambic’s third state title and it added up to a ninth-place finish for the Thunder in the team standings.
Ahwatukee resident and Corona del Sol junior Zach Walton (145) rebounded from a difficult loss in the semifinals to finish third, including a pin in the finals.
Mountain Pointe was represented by seniors Cody Rojas (120) and Patrick Murphy (160), but neither was able to win a match.
In Division IV action, Ahwatukee resident and Valley Christian junior Dayton Nussle won his first match, but lost his next two matches.
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.