PRESCOTT VALLEY – Bailey Janis’ young mind wouldn’t let him think anything else for the longest time.
As much as he was told otherwise, no matter how many times the front door didn’t opened Janis never lost faith that his father would come home.
“You are so young you don’t know what is going on,” he said. “You just show up at home and then the next thing you know you are being told your dad has passed.
“When you are young, you are like ‘Yeah, right. He will be back tonight, he will be back tonight.’ When he never showed up that’s when it really hit.”
His dad, a police officer, was gone after committing suicide. It was the first time Janis dealt with loss, but not the last.
It wasn’t long after that, when he was in the fifth grade, that the Marana Mountain View senior chose to sever ties with his mother. Janis, who loves with his grandparents, Mark and Jody Janis, made the mature decision to break away from his mom, ending all visitations rights, because of drug use.
It is no wonder Janis gravitated toward a singular sport like wrestling.
A lot of ways he’s been battling on his own for a long time already.
“All throughout life you are going to have challenges and they are usually one-on-one decisions,” Janis said after Thursday’s action at Tim’s Toyota Center. “With me and my dad and my mom I’ve had to deal with it. It helps me stay driven to overcome that one obstacle.”
Janis cruised through the Division II state tournament, finishing off his second state title on Friday, at 113 pounds with an 8-4 win over James Zuckerman of Kellis.
“My expectations were the same,” he said. “It’s never easy. It is always a dog fight.”
Janis, who is built like a boulder and as quick as an avalanche, is a four-time state qualifier and three-time state placer (he finished fifth as a freshman) with a career record of 170-20 overall and 98-1 over the last two seasons.
He might not get as much recognition as some of the state’s other multiple state champions, but pound-for-pound there might be only one wrestler – four-time state champion Dalton Brady of Chandler – better than Janis in all of the state.
Janis said the new coaching staff at Mountain View, PJ Ponce took over the program last season, has allowed him to reach a new level.
“They have made a big difference in my life and not just wrestling,” Janis said. “They’ve helped build character as well.”
Add that support with what he gets in his realigned home life and it is easy to see that Janis never let the difficult course of his life harden his approach.
“Bailey is an incredibly strong person,” Ponce said. “Wrestling gives you tools you can apply to life and I don’t think there is an obstacle he can’t overcome.”
Year one for DeBerry
When it comes to wrestling families the DeBerrys are somewhere near the top if not the best.
So when Kyle took over the Desert Edge wrestling program this year, his first head coaching job after winning for individual and team titles for Sunnyside and his career ended at Arizona State it caught everyone’s attention.
Just what kind of coach will he be? Can he bring a same intensity, toughness and intelligence his father, Robert, did at Sunnyside before stepping out of the room two years ago with 14 straight team titles.
It’s hard to tell at this point, but Desert Edge does have five wrestlers at the Division III state meet and that same competitiveness the younger DeBerry displayed on the mat was seen in the chair.
“It’s hard you when you take over a program and they know about you but they don’t know you,” DeBerry said. “I told them what I was bringing into room wasn’t necessarily better but it was different.
“It took some time, but I have a great group of kids who are smart and ready to work. It’s been a good season.”
DeBerry took the team to places like Flowing Wells in order to expose them to a higher level of wrestling.
“If you haven’t wrestled a close, tough match you won’t know how to react once you are in it,” he said.
And if he has any questions there’s always Pops.
“If I don’t know something or how to present it to the kids then I call my Dad,” he said. “He’s been a huge help.”
Speaking of Sunnyside
The Blue Devils won their 30th overall state title with their performance on Friday morning when just about every one of their consolation wrestlers went undefeated to guarantee at least a fourth-place finish.
It is the first title for second-year coach Anthony Leon, who had the gall (sarcasm) to finish fourth last year. It was the first time in the history of the sport in Arizona that the Blue Devils finish out of the top three.
That’s what it is about
Tempe junior Marcus Whitmore beat Camp Verde’s Austin Doll 9-5 in the first round of the Division III 126-pound tournament.
The win came after losing to Doll at least three times early this season. Now that is peaking at the right time.
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.