Desert Vista's Kendall Love, in white against Mountain Pointe's Torr Capittelli, has been a nice boost to the Thunder lineup since transferring from Indiana. Jason P. Skoda

Kendall Love and his family moved back to Arizona to have a better opportunity.

He has a great one this weekend.

The Desert Vista junior 135-pounder has eased to a 4-0 record with three pins and a forfeit while showing great quickness, athleticism and a tireless attack.

But he is still a relative unknown at the state level.

With the Thunder competing in the always tough Moon Valley Invitational this weekend, Love will have a chance to show how much he has grown since moving back from Indiana.

Some of the top programs in the state, like Tempe Corona del Sol, Mesa, Queen Creek and host Moon Valley, in the field the level of wrestling should provide a good test.

"I am excited for the competition," Love said. "We have been working hard, training for six months for tournaments like this. I want to get to the top and this is a chance to see where I am at."

Love is the sixth seed in his weight class behind Camp Verde state champion Roman Bux, Mesa's John Ordaz, Moon Valley's Tobias Banayat and Lakeside Blue Ridge's Cody Onley.

It's a good amount of talent, but it is in the same range of competition Love faces daily in the Thunder wrestling room as he drills mostly with state qualifier Cooper Gardner (130) and state champion Robbie Mathers (125).

"When they go together it is a pretty fierce group," Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said. "Nobody wants to give up a takedown or any points at all. They are pushing each other and it is making everyone better."

Mathers said the live wrestling in the practice room is where all wrestlers make their biggest improvements and having Love in the mix has made it more intense.

"He is so athletic," said Mathers, who won the Class 5A Division I 112-pound title last season. "You hit a shot that you get on most wrestlers, but he gets out of it. It has made me faster trying to set him up."

Love didn't start wrestling until the eighth grade and went 13-3 that first season after starting 0-2. He made varsity at Center Grove High in Greenwood, Indiana, as a freshman and fared well. As a sophomore, Love took second in the state.

"I surprised some people because I have only been wrestling a few years and it is a sport where a lot the kids start real young," Love said. "It's something that just came natural I guess. When I started winning I couldn't get enough."

Love, who was born in Chicago, moved to Arizona as a youngster and moved to Indiana five years ago, believes he has found a new level since joining the Desert Visa program.

"The practices are a lot harder and they are really working with me on getting my moves down," he said. "The competition here is probably better (than Indiana) and that's going to make me better."

Gonzalez said they are trying to get Love to become a better overall wrestler instead of relying mostly on his quickness.

"He is learning to be a technical wrestler," Gonzalez said. "He is a very athletic kid, but we need him to be a little more tactical as well and strategize so he can be more dominant."

Love, who finished fourth at the Disney Duals in June, knows becoming more of technician is what is going to take him to the next level and that's the whole reason the family (his mom, Tonnita, brother Najee, and aunt Tanja Renee) made the decision to come back to Arizona.

"I have to pick up different moves, expand my style and become more well-rounded," Love said. "I want to be a two-time state champ and I have work hard to get there. We came out here because there are more opportunities.

"It's make it or break it time."

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