PRESCOTT VALLEY – Desert Vista’s Tristan Ezell and Brian Mitchell did exactly what high school athletes are supposed to do each year.

They progressed.

While they may walk away from the Division I state champions 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,” Desert Vista coach David 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.

Senior Cooper Gardner (138) and sophomore Jeremiah Imonode (170) were in Friday morning’s consolations but were unable to find placement.

Add in Alex 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 win third including a pin in the finals.

In Division IV action, Ahwatukee resident and Valley Christian junior Dayton Nussle won his first match, but lost in the quarterfinals. He has some work to do before earning placement, but is ready to go.

“I didn’t place last year,” Nussle said. “I am just going to concentrate and not give up.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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