The Desert Vista wrestling team has been impressive every time out this season with its only smudge being a second-place finish at the Moon Valley Invitational.
There is hardly any shame in being runners-up to the two-time defending Class 5A Division I state champion (Corona del Sol) in one of the better tournaments of the season.
So it has gone pretty smoothly thus for the Thunder.
Wednesday provided the toughest dual meet of the season when the Thunder traveled to Mesa Red Mountain for the opening of the Fiesta Region action.
Red Mountain, ranked No. 7 in the state, took it the final match, but No. 2 Desert Vista managed to keep the good vibes flowing.
"It was closer than I would have liked, but we won the matches we had to," Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said. "It was good for them to get knocked down a peg and force us to go back to work."
The Thunder (5-0, 1-0) and Mountain Lions (10-3, 0-1) split the 14 matches with Desert Vista getting a tad more bonus points.
While it came down to the final match - Red Mountain needed a technical fall to tie it or pin to win it at 145 - the Thunder pulled out the win when heavyweight Mike Arrendono got a second period pin just before the buzzer and Cooper Gardner pulled out a 9-4 win that was secured by a late near-side cradle at 130 over Rey Sanchez.
"That was huge for us to win this," Gardner said. "It was their Senior Night and we wanted to take it to them. We have been wrestling pretty good and this just keeps us going."
The Thunder built a 21-8 lead after winning five of the first seven matches, but had to hold on after Red Mountain secured a technical fall at 119, Matt DeRosa won 5-4 over Kendall Love at 135 in the best match of the night and a pin at 140 that closed the margin to 30-25 with a match to go.
It came down to Desert Vista's Danny Mitchell and Red Mountain's Eric Perez, who came out and forced the action. Perez built a 7-4 lead on the way to a 9-7 win, but was never able to turn Mitchell to put the Thunder's team lead in danger.
"I didn't wrestle my match and let the pressure get to me," Mitchell said. "I was happy I came through for the team, but not happy with the way I wrestled."
While Desert Vista won the match, Red Mountain won two of the three featured matches.
"We made it close and had a shot at the end," Red Mountain coach David DiDomenico said. "They wrestled smart at the end because they knew the situation."
The second match of the night featured Red Mountain's Bobby Davis and Desert Vista's Ace Martinez.
Davis took the initial shot, picked Martinez up on a double and brought him hard down to the mat. Martinez hurt his ribs, needed some injury time and it kind of set the tone for the match as Davis controlled throughout for the 8-2 win.
At 215, the Thunder's Alex Bambic handled Bobby Worth 11-5. It started to go the sophomore's way when leading 2-0 already, he escaped to start the second period and shot in for a deep single and pushed his lead out of 5-0.
Worth closed within 5-3 before the end of the second with an escape and takedown of his own, but then Bambic won the battle of state placers by getting two third period takedowns.
The best match, at least the fastest paced, came at 135 when DeRosa beat Love 5-4.
DeRosa was up 4-0 after one, but Love got back into it with an escape and a sweet arm drag. Both wrestlers got escapes to make it 5-4 with just over a minute to go, but that's as far as it went.
"We were tested and that's what we needed," Gonzalez said. "We will get better because of it and prepare us for the next couple of weeks."
Desert Vista 30, Red Mountain 28
103 - Mathers (DV) dec. Brooks (RM), 6-0.
112 - Pfeifle (RM) dec. Ortega (DV), 9-6.
119 - Rivera (RM) tech. fall Struck (DV), 21-6.
125 - Mathers (DV) pin Gutierrez (RM), 1:05.
130 - Gardner (DV) dec. Sanchez (RM), 9-4.
135 - DeRosa (RM) dec. Love (DV), 5-4.
140 - Bullard (RM) pin Dylan Kearny (DV), 5:28.
145 - Perez (RM) dec. Mitchell (DV), 9-7.
152 - Lott (RM) tech fall Campbell (DV), 18-2.
160 - Davis (RM) dec. Martinez (DV), 8-2.
171 - Schoepf (DV) pin Woodland (RM), 3:04
189 - Dixie (DV) dec. Crance (RM), 12-6.
215 - Bambic (DV) dec. Worth (RM), 11-5.
HVY - Arredondo (DV) pin Keledjian (RM), 3:56.