PRESCOTT VALLEY — Tate Sandifer has tasted victory and he’s endured defeat.
After winning a state title his sophomore year, the Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge senior spent much of last season battling injuries and lost his state title match by a score of 7-1.
But Sandifer didn’t spend much time dwelling over the way last season ended. Instead, he poured his energy into getting healthy and getting back to work and when he found himself in the title match for the third year in a row Friday at the Division II wrestling championships at Tim’s Toyota Center, he was more than ready.
Sandifer was aggressive out the gate, jumping to an early lead and eventually defeating Marana’s Chase Meade by a technical fall (15-0) to claim the 138-pound title.
“It feels great to know that hard work pays off,” he said. “I just went out there and got the job done.”
Sandifer’s teammates Troy Taylor (145) and Matt Filbert (152), both defending champions, also took home individual titles Friday and the trio helped Ironwood Ridge to a commanding lead in the team competition. At press time, Ironwood Ridge had 216.5 points while second-place Yuma Gila Ridge had 128.
A team victory for Ironwood Ridge would mark the third in three years.
Bailey Janis of Marana Mountain View took capped a perfect season by taking home his second consecutive title in the 113-pound weight class, defeating James Zuckerman of Glendale Raymond Kellis by decision 8-3. Janis said he felt he had the match won with his final takedown.
“When you are in control like that, you kind of feel their body go weak, and that’s when you know you’ve got into their head and they are emotionally broke,” he said.
Flagstaff’s Austin Gaun defended his title in the 182-pound weight class, pinning Cameron Nelson of Ironwood Ridge.
Tempe Marcos de Niza senior Jesse Morales, the defending champion in the 132-pound weight class, was originally awarded a win over Troy Vandall of Phoenix Barry Goldwater, but the final takedown was waved off, giving Vandall the win by decision.
Other individual champions Friday included: Nathan Mendivil, Jr., Gila Ridge (106 pounds); Austin Gerber, Sr., Gila Ridge (120); Jacob Swift, Fr., Glendale Deer Valley (126); Troy Vandall, Jr., Phoenix Barry Goldwater (132); TJ Gudeman, Sr., Vail Cienaga , (160); Hayden Moore, Sr., Queen Creek (170).