PRESCOTT VALLEY – One of the most difficult things to teach a freshman wrestler is patience. But then most freshmen are not as precocious as Keller Rock of Chino Valley.
Rock waited patiently for El Mirage Dysart’s Jacob Rios to make his move. When it came, Rock was ready. He turned Rios over on his back and pinned the senior three-time state finalist in 3:10 on Friday to claim the Division III 138-pound title at the Arizona Interscholastic Association wrestling state championships at the Prescott Valley Events Center.
“I worked on (defense for) his shot,” Rock (46-4) said. “I knew it was coming.”
Until it came, the two were locked into a scoreless stalemate. But it was evident that Rock was undaunted facing the previously undefeated Rios (56-1).
“Sometimes, it’s tough to keep kids patient, especially freshmen,” Chino Valley coach Allen Foster said.
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Not the confident Rock, who visualized the state championship and hardly seemed overly excited afterward.
“It was one of my goals,” said Rock, a 4.0 GPA student. “I just went out there and wrestled my match. I figured if I wrestled the way I needed to, I would win. Now, I’ll get to work training for Greco-Roman freestyle this summer. And hopefully, I can be back here again next year.”
Speaking of patience, Jake Trask never won a match at the state tournament until this season, his senior year. He went two-and-out as a sophomore, didn’t qualify as a junior and broke his hand before his senior season started. Sporting a 15-2 record as the No. 4 seed from Phoenix Shadow Mountain, he knew he was unheralded entering the tournament.
So he went out and pinned four consecutive opponents to claim the Div. III 145-pound title, decking No. 1-seed Nathan Lamas of Florence in a semifinal and No. 2 Lucas Svoboda of Cottonwood Mingus in the final.
“I believed in myself,” said Trask, who credited double sessions at 3:30 a.m. and after school for his success. “I worked hard. I knew it would pay off. Sure, there was a sense of urgency knowing this was it.”
Another first-time champion was heavyweight Jordan Arbizo of Morenci, and he did it in style with four straight pins, including defending champion Ahli Foster of Winslow in the finals.
“I worked hard this season, and so did our team,” said Arbizo (53-3), the third-place finisher a year ago. “I think I enjoyed it more that the team won than that I won. What a great way to end my senior season.”
The lightweight matches featured a pair of giant-slayers trying to keep the momentum going.
Troy Ramirez of Peoria Sunrise Mountain, who had taken out No. 1 Kamron Whitewater of Page in a semifinal, was victimized by pin machine Jonathan Ruiz. The No. 2 seed from Yuma made it 4-for-4 in pins, bringing his season total to 28, putting Ramirez on his back in 3:21 to claim the Div. III 106 title.
Tanner Crosby made his debut on the big stage a memorable one in the 106-pound Div. IV final. The St. Johns freshman rolled into the final on a three-fall run. He was unable to pin Wickenburg’s Austin Doom but came through with a major decision, 18-10.
“Of course, I would have liked another pin, but I’m proud I won,” Crosby said. “I focused on staying in a good position and trying to get him out of position. I was able to score points when I was able to get him out of position.”
Crosby (54-5) entered the final off a pin of No. 1-seed Blake Wene. He needed to use his head as much as his skill in the semifinal. Wene is a strong wrestler with Greco-Roman skills, so Crosby knew he needed to keep the Phoenix Arizona Lutheran top seed from being able to throw him.
“I studied and kept him from getting into position to throw me,” said Crosby, who then applied lessons learned to keep from Doom.
Show Low captured its first team championship, scoring 172 points to outscore runner-up Yuma with 131 in Div. III. In Div. IV, Morenci successfully defended its team title scoring 218 points to outdistance runner-up St. Johns with 170.
Other Div. III winners: Diego Guerrero, Sahuarita Walden Grove, 113; Byron McKay-Finch, Safford, 120; Dylan Keeney, Payson, 126; Nic Verville, Kingman Lee Williams, 132; Dawon Andrews, Safford, 152; Jackson Allen, Show Low, 160; Stephen Graham, Thunderbird, 170; Adam Henderson, Lakeside Blue Ridge, 182; John Dwyer, Prescott, 195; Tarik Sutkovic, Thunderbird, 220; and JR Fox, Snowflake, 285.
Other Div. IV winners: Skyler Pike, Camp Verde, 113; Cory Cota, Morenci, 120; Korben Uhler, Camp Verde, 126; Mark Roybal, Morenci, 132; Hayden Uhler, Camp Verde, 138; Dawson Avila, St. Johns, 145; Milnes Bow, Arizona Lutheran, 152; Ryne Lewis, Pima, 160; Franky Renteria, San Manuel, 170; Clayson Goodwin, 182, Benson; Christian White, Morenci, 195; and Tristian Stanfield, 285, Camp Verde.