The azcentral.com Sports Awards, presented by Arby’s, will honor an Athlete of the Year in every sport at the event on April 30.
At the end of each season, azcentral sports will announce three finalists for each Athlete of the Year award. The finalists are listed alphabetically.
All three will be invited to the awards show where the winner will be announced live.
A Coach of the Year in every sport also will be selected at the end of each season. From the winter sports honors, a finalist for the overall Coach of the Year award will be announced and invited to the event.
Tickets are on sale for the event at sportsawards.azcentral.com.
Wrestling Athlete of the Year finalists
School: Tucson Sunnyside
Roman Bravo-Young hasn’t tasted defeat yet. Over two seasons, he’s amassed 130 victories.
It’s inched him closer to surpassing an Arizona Interscholastic Association record. Glendale Deer Valley’s Jacob Swift holds record for most consecutive wins at 179.
Bravo-Young earned his 100th win before he turned 18. Other accomplishments include three Flowing Wells Invitational wins and three consecutive appearances at the Cadet Wrestling World Championships.
It makes his senior season all the more reason to keep an eye on him.
“He’s very consistent and very accomplished,” Sunnyside coach Anthony Leon said. “His attention to detail, the way he analyzes really sets an advantage for him. He sees wrestling a little bit different, so that’s what sets him apart from everybody else.”
This season, he went 47-0 and won a Division I state title for the third time. He ran away with the 132-pound victory with ease, finishing the match with two falls at 1:37 and 1:19 then finished the last two frames at 14-4 and 18-6.
In October, he committed to Penn State.
“I just look to improve and see what mistakes I make and capitalize on them,” he said. “It’s all about pushing the pace and going till I can’t go anymore.”
School: Camp Verde
Wrestling runs in Hayden Uhler’s family.
He’s the oldest of five – four brothers and one sister – who compete on the mat.
For the final chapter in his Camp Verde career, he won his fourth state individual Division IV title.
“It took a lot of work,” he said. “I’m still bouncing off the walls. I use wrestling as a getaway from stress. I like to go out there whenever I need to get my mind off something, put in that extra time and focus on that. I love wrestling; it feels like what I’ve been born to do.”
He captured two state titles in middle school, and once at the high school level, he added a pair of Freakshow Nationals championships to his consecutive state title runs.
“All summer long, all year long, he’s just dedicated to the sport,” Camp Verde coach Tracy Tudor said. “He’s relentless. The reason why people are good at what they do is because they love what they’re doing so much. There’s not too many that are into the art of wrestling, but he has the passion for it.”
He jumped in weight each of his high school seasons, starting at 106 pounds his freshman year and finishing at 138 as a senior.
His only two losses came in his freshman season, and he finished high school with a 167-2 record.
“I just trained harder after every title,” Uhler said. “Those losses just made me want to push myself even harder, that’s honestly how I won my freshman year, it motivated me. After that title, I was like, ‘I’m putting in all this time, I don’t like losing, I don’t want to lose anymore.’ ”
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Christian White’s work ethic can be described in one word by Morenci coach Casey Woodall.
“Impeccable,” Woodall said. “I can count on one hand the number of weight lifting-sessions or offseason practices he has missed in four years. He often stays late after practice to get in extra work and can be found working with his teammates to help them become better.”
The titles he won during his high school wrestling career are a testament to that.
White is a three-time state champion and posted back-to-back undefeated seasons the past two years, propelling his record to 108-0. This season, he, along with four other Morenci wrestlers, claimed the program’s sixth overall state title.
He’s been the outstanding wrestler of the Doc Wright Invitational, Witt Duels and Benson Duels.
“This is impressive in and of itself, especially when you consider that he never once won a tournament when he was in junior high,” Woodall said. “I believe it just goes to show how much he’s progressed.”
He currently weighs 195 pounds, but that doesn’t stop Woodall from bumping him up weight classes to face wrestlers who have titles in other divisions.
“You can’t sit back and relax,” White said. “No matter where, maybe not the state you’re in but in another state, you have to train for those other guys. You can be the best in the state, but it doesn’t mean you’re best in the country, so that’s why I work so hard on training and making myself better every day.”
The lengthy list of accomplishments doesn’t mean that White has become immune to the feeling of winning.
“It feels different each time,” he said. “Each one has its own little story line.”
Coach of the Year
School: Tucson Sunnyside
Season recap: Sunnyside has history of dominating the mat. The Blue Devils have won 25 titles since 1985. Adding another to the list is the message Anthony Leon sends to his wrestlers at the start of every season. They received the message – winning nine divisions in the Southern Arizona Sectionals meet, finishing at 265.5. Despite the entire Blue Devils squad qualifying for the state tournament, Tempe Corona del Sol edged Sunnyside, 226.5-203 for the Division I state title. Roman Bravo-Young (134), Manny Garcia (113), Jesse Ybarra (106) and David Salazar (145) won individual titles.
Coach Leon’s comments: “It’s bittersweet because I felt like we had a really good team. At the start of the season, there’s always one message, and that’s to win a state championship. Unfortunately, we fell short of that goal. We just couldn’t win against those critical matches against Corona del Sol. But we are going to have a really good team this next year, so it’s just about putting it all together and being ready to go.”
106: Carlos Vargas, Glendale Deer Valley
113: Skyler Pike, Camp Verde
120: Byron McKay-Finch, Safford
126: Brandon Courtney, Goodyear Desert Edge
132: Roman Bravo-Young, Tucson Sunnyside
138: Hayden Uhler, Camp Verde
145: Gator Groves, Tempe McClintock
152: Vincent Dolce, Tempe Corona del Sol
160: Marco Groves, Tempe McClintock
170: Trayvin Cato, Paradise Valley
182: Adam Henderson, Lakeside Blue Ridge
195: Christian White, Morenci
220: Tarik Sutkovic, Phoenix Thunderbird
285: Kolo Uasike, Mesa Skyline