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State wrestling: Ironwood Ridge wins first D-I crown

February 12, 2016 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Ironwood Ridge built a commanding lead in the Division I wrestling tournament in Friday morning's consolation rounds. What the Nighthawks did at that stage of the tourney carried them to the title.

Led by individual champs senior Danny Vega (113), Josiah Kline (132) and Jeremy Berson (182), Ironwood Ridge captured its first D-I crown with a 22.5 point win at Prescott Valley Event Center in Prescott Valley. Ironwood Ridge finished with 194 points, Sunnyside had 171.5. Third through fifth were Mesa Mountain View (166.5), Cibola (139.5) and Chandler (100). Vega's title was the third of his career.

Ironwood Ridge had its way for a couple of seasons competing in Division II, winning three titles in a row (2011-2013).The last two years, however, it couldn't get past Mesa Mountain View and a few others in D-I. This year the staying power was there. Irronwood Ridge had 10 placers overall with Kyle Taylor (145) and Marco Dominquez (160) earning runner-up honors behind the three champs. Ironwood Ridge pulled away from Mountain View and Sunnyside in the AM matches. The evening's wins were limited to its three champions.

Sunnyside fared well with three champs of its own -- sophomore Roman Bravo-Young (120), his second title; David Salazar III (126) and Marco Frias (170). Mesa Mountain View, bidding for a third successive team title, garnered two champs -- Jared Booth (138) and Anthony Wokasch (152). The rest of the individual titles were one each to six schools -- Tucson's Marco Rivera (106), Boulder Creek's Cory Crooks (145), repeat-champ Mesa High's James Williams (160), Desert Vista's Chad Porter (195), Cibola's Tommy Mommer (220) and Red Mountain's Ezequiel Valles (HWT).


Liberty and Seton Catholic, vying for their first-ever title in the sport, played leap-frog during Friday night's medal round. It was Liberty that produced the final jump(s)

Liberty 195-pounder Blake Smith, with only one loss this season, capped the final foray between the schools with a pin one minute into his match with Thunderbird's Eric Mickelson to provide the Lions the margin of victory and the Diviison II title.

Liberty totaled 164 points at tourney's end with Seton at 159 followed bt Marana Mountain View (122), Queen Creek (100.5) and Campo Verde (89). A few minutes before Smiith's lead-taking, title-clinching pin, teammate Miles Nuessle (189) pulled off a rally in the final seconds of the third period to beat Seton's Bridger Barker, 3-1. Barker nursed a 1-0 lead late into the third period before Nuessle tied and won in the final seconds of the period. Had Seton prevailed, the Sentinels would have been in the driver's seat. It turned out to be an eight-point swing. Nuessle's win pulled Liberty within a point (159-158). 

Liberty crowned two champions -- Atilano Escobar (113) and Smith and had eight wreslters place. Liberty held a half-point lead heading to the medal rounds and secured wins in four of seven medals matches. Seton won four of eight in the medal rounds -- three in succession -- with individiual champs Vincent Dolce (145), Quentin Hovis (152) and Brandon Konecny (160) rallyiing the Sentinels to the lead. Hovis' tittle was his third and Konecny's  his second. The Sentinels moved up to D-II from D-III this year after a third-place finish in D-III in 2015.

The individual of this year's state tournament -- all divisions included -- is Deer Valley senior Jacob Swift. Swift completed his four years with four titles to become only the 30th in state history to accomplish that. Swift, 52-0 this season, won titles at 126, 138, 152 the last three seasons, respectively. He won 179 matches in a row. He lost one match in his career as a freshman wrestling up two classes. His loss was to Ironwood Ridge's Tate Sandifer, a two-time state champ who ended up winning state that season as a senior at 138.

The meet saw several other repeat champions.-- Prescott's Daniel Hernandez (195), his third title), McClintock's Gator Groves (126) and Marco Groves (132), Desert Edge's Brandon Courtney and Mesquite's Roy Lopez (HWT). Lopez won in D-I last year. Rounding out the champs are Sunrise Mountain's Caden Perez (106) and Marana Mountain View's Trey Waltz (138).