TUCSON — Another big wrestling tournament, another big win for Tucson Sunnyside.
The longtime wrestling powerhouse turned in a convincing performance Saturday, taking home the team championship in the 47th Flowing Wells Wrestling Invitational at Tucson Flowing Wells High.
With 240 points, Sunnyside easily took the title over Mesa Mountain View (169 points) and Tempe Corona del Sol (160.5) in the 37-team tournament that is one of the last key measuring sticks for sectionals and next month’s state championships.
Sunnyside has proved that it can win anywhere in the state, as it also claimed team titles in the McClintock Wrestling Invitational and the Peoria Wrestling Invitational “Tournament of Champions” this season.
“You’re only as good as your last competition, and we’re fortunate to have won them all,” said second-year Sunnyside coach Anthony Leon, who saw his team’s streak of 14 consecutive state championships end last season. “We have a target on our back, and I don’t think it ever left. As long as we wrestle hard, everybody’s on notice.”
Sunnyside placed six finalists in the 14 weight classes Saturday, with senior Sergio Miranda and junior Gabriel Gonzalez claiming individual championships at 120 and 195 pounds, respectively.
Senior Christian Pagdilao, California’s top-ranked wrestler out of Corona Santiago High, was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler after defeating Rio Rico’s Marky Lopez by a 7-0 decision.
One name missing from Saturday’s brackets was Chandler senior and three-time state champion Dalton Brady, who did not travel to Tucson with his team. Chandler coach Vidal Mejia said Brady is dealing with a sore back but should be ready to go soon.
In contrast to most other tournaments that have championship and consolation matches going on simultaneously, Flowing Wells directs all eyes to one mat for the finals, creating an especially charged environment at times.
The crowd was never louder than during the 160-pound championship between juniors Pierre Gaud of Yuma Cibola and Ethan Tursini of Corona del Sol. Gaud was up 6-1 in the third period before Tursini came roaring back to tie it, thanks in part to penalties assessed to Gaud. In the first overtime period, Tursini scored a takedown to win the match 8-6.
“He shut my offense down in the first and second period,” Tursini said of Gaud. “I saw that I was down 4-0 in the second period, so I knew I had to go. There was nothing that was going to stop me from getting this trophy.”
Other individual champions Saturday included: Chris Lacayo, Jr., Santiago (106 pounds); Bailey Janis, Sr., Marana Mountain View (113); Tristan Moran, So., Chandler (126); Glenn Farina, Jr., Corona del Sol (132); Mike Longo, Sr., Santiago (138); Matt Filbert, Sr., Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge (152); Hayden Moore, Sr., Queen Creek (170); Alex Bambic, Sr., Phoenix Desert Vista (182); Drew Lattner, Sr., Chandler (220); Kilisimasi Uasike, Sr., Mesa Mountain View (heavyweight).