Phoenix Thunderbird collects its 3rd wrestling crown in a row

Phoenix Thunderbird collects its 3rd wrestling crown in a row

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Phoenix Thunderbird collects its 3rd wrestling crown in a row

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PRESCOTT VALLEY — It’s a Thunderbird three-peat.

Phoenix Thunderbird proved to be too tough for its opponents once again, winning its third consecutive team title Saturday at the Division III wrestling championships at Tim’s Toyota Center.

Thunderbird finished with 132.5 points, topping the 91 of Rio Rico. Thunderbird now has five team championships in the last nine years, and were runner-up the other four years.

“Thunderbird High School can be very, very proud of their wrestling program,” coach Steve Linsacum said. “We work, and I think we get a lot of the success we have because we just physically outwork a lot of people. I don’t see how anybody could outdo us when it comes to intensity.”

Rio Rico senior Mark Lopez also won his third state title Saturday, and was nearly unbeatable this season. He went 40-1 and plowed through the 145-pound championship bracket, scoring two pins and two major decisions, never surrendering a point in the process.

“That was my main goal going into the tournament,” Lopez said. “I wanted to show how dominant I was, since it was my last year. I try to be a perfectionist, and I was perfect this tournament.”

Division III’s other defending champion, Phoenix Moon Valley senior Ryan Vandall, also successfully repeated. He pinned Coolidge sophomore Sergio Chavez at 132 after winning at 126 last year.

“I’m feeling stoked,” Vandall said. “My school’s never had a two-time state champ. I’m the first one, so it’s a great feeling.”

At 113, Thunderbird senior Ryan Felipe had to settle for his second consecutive runner-up showing at state, as San Tan Valley Combs sophomore Ted Combs defeated him by a 3-1 decision.

“I knew he was going to be really tough,” Combs said of Felipe. “I just had to stay aggressive on him. I knew that I’d break him if I stayed on him for the whole six minutes.”

Other individual champions Saturday included: sophomore Josh Kramer, Buckeye Verrado (106); junior Gabe Galaviz, Flagstaff Coconino (126); senior Isaiah Gomez, Thunderbird (126); senior Eric Jeong, Rio Rico (138); junior Jesus Berrera, Tucson Amphitheater (152); senior Connor Anderson, Payson (160); senior Felipe Nava, Phoenix Sierra Linda (170); senior Jorge Robles, Sahuarita (182); senior Jacob Badger, Lakeside Blue Ridge (195); senior Patrick Penniston, Rio Rico (220); and senior J.T. Bradley, Snowflake (heavyweight).

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