Three Desert Vista wrestlers win state, find place on the wall - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

Three Desert Vista wrestlers win state, find place on the wall

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Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 8:00 pm | Updated: 4:59 pm, Thu May 5, 2011.

On the far, western wall of the Desert Vista wrestling room hang nine pictures of the school's state champions.

Every now and then Robbie Mathers made his way over there this season to find himself looking back.

"I wanted to make sure I was getting better than I was when it was taken," Mathers said. "Every day you don't get better is a day wasted."

No worries there.

Mathers became the school's first two-time state champion and 10th overall on Friday after winning the 125-pound Division I title at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.

The junior's accomplishment will send coach David Gonzalez to the store to buy a picture frame for Mathers' new picture, but he isn't buying just one.

The Thunder had three state champions - the second most in school history (four in 2008) - to finish third in the team race as junior Kendal Love (135) and sophomore Alex Bambic (215) also came home with pictures of them standing on top of the podium to be put on the wall.

"And they're all coming back next year," Gonzalez said with a big smile.

Here is a look at how all three came back champions:

Mathers already on the run for 3rd title

Becoming Desert Vista's first two-time state champion Friday wasn't enough for Robbie Mathers.

So after beating Tucson Sunnyside's Lucio Murillo, a two-timer himself, Mathers took it upon himself to run a few wind sprints under the grandstand in the bowels of Tim's Toyota Center shortly after his 6-3 win ended.

"I want three and it starts now," said Mathers, who finished 39-3 on the season. "I just felt the need to keep working."

The second one didn't come easy.

Murillo nearly got the first takedown right after the opening whistle, but Mathers was able to scramble out of it. The match was eventually stopped because Mathers sustained a cut on his forehead on the initial shot by Murillo.

"I was a little dazed, but it actually made me focus more," said Mathers, who gave Murillo his only two defeats of the season. "I came back with more of an edge."

Murillo eventually got a first-period takedown, but Mathers escaped with nine seconds left in the first period to pull within 2-1.

Mathers deferred to start the second, and Murillo chose down. With 33 seconds left in the period, Mathers was able to lock up a tilt for a two-point near fall and 3-2 lead.

"We've been working on his tilt, and it's become a real weapon," Gonzalez said. "It changed the match and put him in control."

He then chose down to start the third period, escaped and secured the win with a takedown with 1:26 left in the match.

"I had a lead, but I didn't think about winning it until the final seconds because there was too much time left," Mathers said. "Once I won it there was a sense of relief. All of that work and time meant something."

Gonzalez wasn't surprised by Mathers' decision to get some running in shortly after getting his hand raised.

"It's an indicator of who he is and what drives him," Gonzalez said. "Winning a third one is already on his mind. That's just the way his mind works."

Love gets his hands on a sick pair of shoes

Nearly 15 years after the death of wrestling legend Dave Schultz, Desert Vista assistant coach John Matthews wore a pair of red Asics Tiger wrestling shoes he was given during the Olympic Trials to a Thunder practice.

The very pair he wore when he beat Schultz.

Cool, huh?

So cool that Love slyly asked how he could, maybe, possibly, have them.

The answer was simple - win state.

Not sure when the exchange is going to happen, but it is going to happen after Love won the 135-pound title.

"I pulled them off the shelf and dusted them off," Matthews said. "I wore them and Kendall said, ‘Those are sick. How can I get those?'

"If that's what it took, I am proud to turn them over."

Love earned them by beating Tucson Sunnyside's Andres Piedra 3-2 in the finals to become the school's 11th state champion.

"I have never seen state, never knew what it was about and my first time I am here I win it," said Love, who transferred in from Indiana where he didn't make state as a sophomore. "This is the top accomplishment in my life."

After a scoreless first, Love got an escape in the second period off the whistle and then got a takedown on the edge on his patented arm drag for a 3-0 lead. Piedra escaped by the end of the second to make it a two-point match.

Piedra escaped with 1:42 left to close within 3-2. Love was dinged with a stalling warning but did enough to ward off another stalling call and any of the shot attempts by Piedra for the win.

Love fully appreciates the gesture by Matthews and plans to cash in.

"What an incredible feeling," Love said. "It's an honor to get those shoes and I take it to heart. Ever since I've come here I have been treated like I have never been before. There are some great people in that wrestling room, and I'm happy to be part of it."

Bambic wins bloody rivalry match

A few years back Alex Bambic wore braces.

The metal mouth syndrome is hard to hide especially on a wrestling mat. Wrestlers are not the most sympathetic and have been known to purposely rake the mouth of competitors who have braces much like a boxer going after an opponent's bloodied eye.

Bambic didn't forget or forgive.

A little of that payback for it came Friday night when the Desert Vista sophomore beat Corona del Sol's Simon Allen, 9-4, for the Division I 215-pound title at Tim's Toyota Center.

"He was mean as a kid," Bambic said. "He never let up. I wanted to stop him from winning state."

Bambic became the school's 12th state champion and pulled off a rare feat - a sophomore winning a state title in one of the two largest weight classes.

"I told to him to go after it and leave no doubt," Gonzalez. "He wrestled a smart match, probably the best of his life. He wasn't going to be denied."

Allen (45-1) had his right kneecap come out of socket and pop back into place early in the first period to hinder his quickness and strength, but make no mistake Bambic (37-3) was setting the pace from the start although he couldn't finish most of his offensive attacks.

He got a four-point move in the second and then took advantage of a relatively new rule. Bambic was riding Allen, leading 4-3, when they went out of bounds. When Allen took injury time it allowed Bambic to choose down on the restart with eight seconds left.

Bambic got a reversal in that short period for a 6-3 lead after two. An escape and then the clinching takedown with 1 minute and 10 seconds left put the finishing touches on a rivalry that heated up at last year's state meet when they split matches with Allen finishing third.

"With about 30 seconds left I knew it was going to happen," he said. "I just had to finish him off. It's a great feeling."

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Jason P. Skoda
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