PRESCOTT VALLEY – He’s almost at the end of this four-year journey, but Dalton Brady knows there is still one more very important step left.
The Chandler High senior is one win away from becoming Arizona’s latest four-time state champion, after winning his semifinal match Thursday during the Division I state wrestling preliminaries at Tim’s Toyota Center.
Brady pinned all three of his opponents Thursday and will face Laveen Cesar Chavez junior Dajour Reece Friday for the 138-pound title. Brady previously won championships at 103, 112 and 120 pounds, and knows how close he is to joining that exclusive club of four-timers.
“It’s hard not to think about because the finish line’s right there,” he said. “But I know I got to keep my head on right.”
Reece is no slouch, having scored wins over tough opponents in Tucson Sunnyside’s Raul Moraga and Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor’s Hayes Rollins Thursday, but even he knows what a task it will be to defeat Brady.
“I think I’d go down in history for that,” Reece said.
Brady was part of a Chandler team that led the Division I team standings with 105 points after Thursday’s matches. Sunnyside was second with 99.5 and Mesa Mountain View finished with 81.
Other notable Division I finals matchups Friday will include: Sunnyside junior William Olivas vs. Chandler sophomore Tristan Moran at 126 pounds; Tempe Corona del Sol junior Ethan Tursini vs. Avondale Westview junior Kordell Provchy at 160; and a match between undefeated juniors at 170 pounds, Anthem Boulder Creek’s Jro Byrd and Chandler Basha’s Trey Ronayne.
In Division II, Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge is on the hunt for its third consecutive team title. It leads the way in the team competition after Day 1 with 167 points followed by Yuma Gila Ridge with 102.
Ironwood Ridge is led by seniors Tate Sandifer (138), Troy Taylor (145) and Matt Filbert (152). The trio breezed through their semifinal matches Thursday, each pinning their opponents in the second period.
All three wrestlers will be looking to snag their second individual crowns of their careers Friday.
Taylor and Filbert are the defending champions in their weight classes, and Sandifer took home a title in 2011.
Filbert said it’s been fun to be part of a program that’s so successful, but he’s also feeling the pressure to live up to expectations.
“It’s a lot more pressure this year,” he said.
“If any one thing goes wrong it’s not like you’re coming back next year, you’ll just have to live with it for the rest of your life so you’ve got to make sure nothing goes wrong.”
Other individual wrestlers to watch Friday include defending champions Austin Gaun of Flagstaff (182), Jesse Morales of Tempe Marcos de Niza (132) and Bailey Janis (113) of Marana Mountain View.
Janis is undefeated this season.