PRESCOTT VALLEY - Alex Bambic will take his place among the Parade of Champions once again, only this time he will be alone.
The Desert Vista senior made the 182-pound Division I state championship match as he attempts to tie the school record with his third state title.
In his previous two years, he had company as two other Thunder wrestlers also found their way to an individual title, but this year the other five Thunder state qualifiers came up short.
“We still have five of our six left,” Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said. “We have to come back, dig deep and keep winning.”
Bambic, who is 28-1 on the season, easily handled Highland’s John Gorrie in the semis with a 10-5 win. After a scoreless first period, he got four takedowns for the win.
He will take on Chandler’s Joe Miranda, who Bambic pinned in the finals of last week’s sectionals, in Friday’s 6:30 p.m. finals at Tim’s Toyota Center.
“There’s no added pressure,” said Bambic of trying to match Robbie Mathers’ record as a three-time champion. “I just want to get it over with.”
Thunder 113-pound sophomore Brian Mitchell came the closest to joining Bambic.
Mitchell is a two-time state semifinalist and placer after winning his first two matches, but lost 6-0 in the semis to Sunnyside state runner-up Juaqin Olivas.
Now he has to make sure he isn’t a two-time sixth placer.
After falling into the semifinals as a freshman, he lost two more consolation matches to end the tournament with a bad feeling instead of realizing he found his way to the podium as a freshman.
It has been a driving force since and knows he can’t have any letdown in Friday’s action.
“I have to realize the tournament isn’t over,” said Mitchell, who is 38-10 on the year. “I have to come out and wrestle my best match of the season.”
The Thunder’s four other wrestlers had varying degrees of success and only one was eliminated on the first day in heavyweight Adam Ortega.
The other three are one match away from placing.
Senior Cooper Gardner (138) is still alive after losing in the first round, sophomore Jeremiah Imonode (170) bounced back after losing in the quarterfinals and junior Tristan Ezell lost his quarterfinal match 3-2 in the final seconds on an escape (after being nailed for stalling earlier for a penalty point) is still alive.
While Gonzalez would prefer to have more in the championship bracket getting five wrestlers through to the second day isn’t all that bad.
“I thought we could have done better in certain spots, but that is over,” he said. “We have to refocus and get it together.”
Mountain Pointe’s stay in Prescott Valley wasn’t very long as seniors Cody Rojas, a four-time state qualifier, and Patrick Murphy (160) both went 0-2.
Ahwatukee resident and Corona del Sol junior Zach Walton (145) lost in the Division I semifinals.
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.