PRESCOTT VALLEY - Robbie Mathers is wrestling with a mean streak, while Kendall Love is trying to redeem himself and Alex Bambic has exactly what he wants.
The Desert Vista trio made the Division I state wrestling finals after winning semifinal matches Thursday at Tim's Toyota Center.
The Thunder went three for four in the semifinals with only Ace Martinez (160) losing in the final second to sit in second place in the team standings behind Tucson Sunnyside, which leads with 116.5 points. DV has 79 with Chandler (71), Cibola (66) and Mesa (65.5) rounding out the top five.
It all got started with defending champion Mathers, who pinned Highland's Chad Done in 5 minute and 29 seconds. It was a relatively close match through one-and-half periods until a reversal by Mathers made it 8-3 and before it was over he had Done, who is a four-time state placer including state title as a sophomore, on his back for nearly the entire third period.
This is the same opponent Mathers, a junior, beat 12-3 in the season-opening match.
"I am a much better wrestler now," Mathers said. "We've worked hard to get this point and there is no let up now."
Mathers (38-3) will face another state champion Lucio Murillo (34-1) of Sunnyside in the 7 p.m. finals on Friday.
As for the extra nastiness Mathers, who can become the school's first multiple state champion, seems to be bringing to the mat he said there is no reason not be angry.
"Anything can happen at this level," said Mathers, who beat Murillo 6-2 at Flowing Wells. "If you don't wrestle with an edge you can lose at anytime."
Love (26-6) beat Mesa Mountain View's Grant Huber with a five-point move off a slick duck under that he has been perfecting over the years for an 9-7 win.
"I knew I needed something and it's a move I am comfortable with," said Love, who didn't make the state tournament in Indiana last season. "I had to get some points quick."
The junior has been out to redeem himself since not making weight at the Flowing Wells tournament. It cost him valuable experience and probably kept the team out of a top five finish at the state's toughest tournament.
"That really bothered me," he said. "It was dumb. There's nothing I can do about it. I just worked extra hard to make sure I was there when the team needed me most."
Love will face Sunnyside's Andres Piedra, who beat undefeated and top-seeded Samson Imonode of Central in the quarterfinals, in the finals.
Bambic got past Red Mountain's Bobby Worth with a 4-3 win after getting back points in the final period to break a 2-2 tie to make the 215-pound finals.
Bambic, a sophomore, finished fifth last season at state in a tournament route that featured a couple of epic battles against Corona del Sol's Simon Allen, who will be Bambic's opponent in the finals on Friday.
"That's who I wanted," said Bambic (36-3). "He has to go through me to win a state title."
The two combatants met in the first round at state last year with Bambic getting the 8-7 win, but then lost 3-2 to Allen in the consolation semifinals.
The rubber match so to speak came in the finals of the Moon Valley Invitational this season as Allen (45-0) won 7-3, but their history goes further back than that.
It will make for an interesting rematch as Bambic hasn't lost since the semifinals of the Flowing Wells tournament.
"I've been training harder to get ready for this match," Bambic said. "I am going to leave everything on the mat."
Martinez (33-8) will have a chance to come back in the consolation semifinals on Friday morning with a chance to match last year's third-place finish.
He entered the third period with a 1-0 lead on Mesa's Dorian Coleman, who escaped and used a duck under for the winning takedown at the buzzer.
The Thunder have Matthew Mathers (103), Sam Schoepf (171) and Mike Arredondo (HVY) left in the consolations quarterfinals.
Mountain Pointe had two wrestlers make the quarterfinals in Cody Rojas (112) and Robert Link (152), but both lost those matches.