PRESCOTT VALLEY – If the state championship had been wrestled last month, it’s doubtful Phoenix Thunderbird would’ve come out on top.
At that point Thunderbird was still struggling to find cohesion after suffering key injuries in the early part of the season.
But given the extra time to prepare, Thunderbird once more showed its prowess, winning the Division III team championship Friday at the Prescott Valley Event Center to claim its fourth title in the last five years.
“We peaked at the right time,” longtime Thunderbird coach Steve Linsacum said. “We did not get our full team together until the (sectional) tournament. It was kind of like jello – we waited for it to jell. We didn’t get it out early, we kept it refrigerated. We had patience and it paid off.”
Thunderbird placed three wrestlers in the finals and got two champions – seniors Tyler Rittenhouse (160 pounds) and Diego Rodriguez (182).
Related: Division IV wrestling results
That helped Thunderbird earn 170.5 points, enough to propel it past Tucson Amphitheater’s 147.
Amphitheater had five finalists and three champions but needed more against Thunderbird, which has claimed six state championships and three runner-up finishes in the last 10 years.
“Some of the hardships and struggles that these kids go through, it’s amazing what we did,” Amphitheater coach Sam Portillo said. “Thunderbird is a tradition of champions. They’re expected to win. My kids, we’re on the brink of breaking that. I tip my hat to Thunderbird – they’re a great program, and we’re just trying to get up to their level.”
Chandler Seton Catholic, which finished third in the team standings with 102 points, saw two of its wrestlers earn championships for the second straight year, as sophomore Quentin Hovis won at 138 pounds and senior Sergio Chavez prevailed at 170.
Other individual champions Friday included: Isaac Cabrera, junior, Flagstaff Coconino (106 pounds); Jackson Allen, freshman, Show Low (113); David Mendez, senior, Morenci (120); Ted Rico, senior, San Tan Valley Combs (126); Yarhoski Aldiva, junior, Amphitheater (132); Geovanni Payan-Diaz, senior, Amphitheater (145); Brandon Konecny, sophomore, Seton Catholic (152); Kyle Rodriguez, junior, Amphitheater (195); Davion Grey, senior, Phoenix Moon Valley (220); Riley Bourgeous, senior, Combs (285).
PHOTOS: HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING STATE TOURNAMENT 2015
Jason Holmes (R) and Roman Bravo (L) wrestle in the 106 weight class of the Division 1 State Finals at the Arizona Prescott Valley Events Center in Prescott Valley, Ariz., Saturday Feb. 14, 2015. Roman Bravo of the Blue Devils would take the victory.