Gila Ridge sits in first in Division II after first day; Cibola in third after first consolation round in Division I bracket
Isaac Saenz said he was heartbroken after a fifth place finish at the Division II Section I Wrestling Championships.
What a difference a week makes. Now the Gila Ridge 145-pounder is two wins away from a state title.
And not only that, but his Hawks are in first place after the first day of the AIA State Wrestling Championships.
In the Division I bracket, Cibola had been in first place after the first round but fell off the pace in the quarterfinals. The Raiders were in sixth place, but moved up to third after the first consolation round and trail first-place Chandler by six points on what coach Mike Jankowski called a “pretty bad” day,
Gila Ridge is in the thick of the title race. All 12 Hawks are still alive, including eight in the semifinals — a number that includes not only defending state champion Kevin Jumbeck, but also Saenz, who had a rough section tournament.
“I seriously didn't want to wrestle after that,” Saenz said. “It broke my heart. But I came in here, just wanted to get back to what I do and dominate.”
Now he'll get a shot at revenge, facing the Peoria wrestler, Brandon Cordova, who pinned him and went on to win the sectional.
“He was real disappointed in himself in sectional, and we knew where he should be,” Gila Ridge coach David King said. “At the end of his match he was just elated. He's a real passionate kid and he feels validated by it.”
King said he was nearly speechless after finding out the Hawks had a 6.5 point lead on second-place Ironwood Ridge.
“I'm looking forward to the ride. It's real exciting,” King said. “I'm kind of amazed by it. It's pretty amazing.”
For Cibola, defending state champ Rafael Jaimes lost in the first round. No. 2 seed Leo Nunez lost in the 132-pound quarterfinals. A bright spot was Adam Razo, the seven seed at 160, roll into the semifinals — one of four Raiders in the semifinals. Seven remain in the consolation bracket and one was eliminated.
“We had a couple things happen that we didn't expect, a couple guys came through in the semifinals. Razo came through,” Jankowski said. “It's the same kind of thing that we had at Flowing Wells. We had a rough go at it before we bounced back and started to take care of business. I told them this is the same thing.”
The Raiders started the day in first after the opening round before falling into sixth. Jankowski said he feels the team will be able to score points in the consolation bracket and still thinks they can get a team title. Razo agrees.
“We had a good start, but the second round got a little tough,” Razo said. “But we're going to come back.”
Yuma High also was at the Division II side of the tournament, and got one wrestler into the semifinals — No. 2 James Gomez. He won a close decision in his quarterfinal, 5-4, although he never trailed.
“He was in control, but he wasn't pushing the pace like he normally does, controlling the tides like he normally does,” Yuma High coach Jeff Welsing said. “He was just kind of hanging on and being content with winning instead of dominating the pace ... which he usually does.”
The Criminals also may have had the upset of the tournament. No. 11 Leo Salcedo trailed Marcos De Niza's Zach Roybal 14-0 in the first period, but got a quick reversal and a pin. He lost his next match and is one of four Yuma High wrestlers alive in the consolation round.
“It was horrible, but I wasn't going to give up,” Salcedo said. “I found a cradle and I pinned him.”
Kofa had one wrestler in the Division I tournament, Brian Landeros. He lost a 7-6 decision in the quarterfinals. He nearly got a takedown of Pinnacle's Payton Vermeesch, ranked No. 3 at 160, but was ruled out of bounds. This came after tweaking his MCL in a first round win.
“I wrestled my hardest,” Landeros said. “I felt like I got the takedown, we went out of bounds. And the ref didn't give me the takedown. I don't think I got the takedown. I know I got the takedown. But I didn't get made. Stuff happens. It's part of the sport. All you can do is bounce back and wrestle hard.”
San Luis had two wrestlers. Only heavyweight Gustavo Vargas is still alive, fending off elimination with a 5-4 overtime in an elimination match. He gave up a takedown in the final 20 seconds of regulation, but got a reversal in the second overtime.
“It's definitely not how we wanted, but we got a guy into tomorrow, we revenged a loss from sectional, so that's always good,” Rob Jankowski said. “He's a senior He knows any match can be his last.”