When Tim Williams was tabbed as Show Low’s wrestling coach in 2005 after one season as an assistant, the then 24-year-old's plans to roll out team titles were in his back pocket.
So he thought.
There was individual success (see four-time champ Ricky Ryan) but Show Low didn’t really come close to clinching a team title during Williams’ first five seasons. Williams decided to shelve his pride and seek advice from one of the state’s all-time coaching greats, Bobby DeBerry, winner of 15 team titles in 17 seasons at Sunnyside.
To Williams surprise, DeBerry told Williams that he had to sell his program to the mothers of perspective Show Low wrestlers.
“The key is to get mothers on your side,” Williams said. “I’m serious. It made a lot of sense. I am married, and if mom is happy, life is a lot easier. I started making a conscious effort to get moms on my side and helped them understand what wrestling can do for their child.”
After Williams stored what DeBerry told him and began selling his program to those outside his program, including moms, Show Low wrestling was now really open for business.
This season, behind the support of a strong wrestling community Williams and his staff cultivated, Show Low is one of the favorites to win a Division III team state championship. The tournament kicks off Thursday at Prescott Valley Events Center.
The senior class of Show Low along with their coaches have been building up to this moment. Show Low’s senior class was Williams’ first class to help Show Low Junior High, a Show Low High feeder, win a state team title.
Besides strong parental support, Williams’ program also is backed by the local junior high, a three-time defending state champ that replenishes Williams’ lower wrestling levels. One of the seniors that came up through the ranks, Jaisen Brown, embodies Show Low’s commitment to finally get to the top of Arizona’s D-III wrestling peak.
Brown, a two-time state runner-up, was a favorite last year, when Show Low finished fourth, but a football injury slowed Brown down.
Like Show Low, Brown believes that “this is his year.”
But the senior also wants to see his teammates’ arms raised after matches.
“They are my team and brothers,” Brown said. “Man, I think the world of them and don’t want any of them to fail ever.”
Looking out for Brown’s best interests are his guardians, Rob and Colleen Morones.
The Morones have made a lot of sacrifices, including moving to Show Low, to provide the right setting for Brown to excel. Their efforts are paying off and then some, as Brown, a former chess state champ, is carrying a 3.8 GPA and will attend University of Arizona to study engineering.
“They (the Morones) have done so much for me my whole life,” Brown said. “I just appreciate it, and I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for them and pushing me in everything I do.”
Brown is one of the seven seniors Show Low groomed into leaders.
“No matter what is accomplished at state,” said Willams about his seniors, “the legacy they will leave will stick around for a long time and continue to build around it.”
Besides Brown, the only other Show Low wrestler who’s lost only once this year is two-time state champ Jackson Allen, a junior with a “strong work ethic and a natural leader.”
But this year, Show Low is strong top to bottom, including its two freshmen, Tanner Fellows and Conner Schweigert. That depth stepped up this year when Show Low lost two wrestlers at 182 to season ending injuries but still won Winslow’s Doc Wright for the first time.
The team also defeated Safford, a returning state champ, in a dual meeting and won its own tournament. Show Low’s wrestling program and Williams have grown up, but there’s one big step left to take — win a title.
“Honestly, when I took over I was young and arrogant,” Williams said. “I thought I could do it on my own. That’s the honest truth. But after a while you begin to learn that it takes a community to win championships.”
Show Low’s state qualifiers
106 Tanner Fellows, Fr.: 4th at Witt Duals, 2nd at Last Chance, 2nd at sectionals.
113 Connor Schweigert, Fr.: 5th at Witt Duals, 3rdat Doc Wright, 1st at Last Chance, 2nd at sectionals.
120 Skyler Koury, Sr.: 4th at Marana, 4th at Doc Wright, 1stat Last Chance, 1st at sectionals.
126 Hunter Batemen, So.: 2nd at Witt Duals, 6th at Marana, 3rd at sectionals.
132 Talon Wilhelm, Jr.: 4th at Witt Duals, 3rd at Doc Wright, 3rdat Last Chance, 1st at sectionals.
138 Maxx McKril, Sr.: 1st at Marana, 5th at Doc Wright, 2nd at Last Chance, 2nd at sectionals.
145 Cody Irwin, Sr.: 4th at Last Chance, 3rd at sectionals.
152 Roper Howard, So.: 2nd at Witt Duals, 1st at Last Chance, 1st at sectionals.
160 Jackson Allen, Jr: 1st at Doc Wright and Last Chance, 1st at sectionals.
170 Westin Keime, Jr.: 3rd Witt Duals, 1st Marana, 3rd Last Chance, 1st at sectionals.
195 Dallin Tenney, Sr.: 5th at Will Duals, 4th at Marana, 3rd at Doc Wright, 1st at Last Chance., 3rd at sectionals.
220 Jaisen Brown, Sr.: 1st at Witt Duals, Marana and Last Chance. 2nd at Doc Wright, 1st at sectionals.
285 Jacob Mills, Sr.: 5th at Witt Duals, 3rd at Marana, 5th at Doc Wright, 2nd at Last Chance, 4th at sections.