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Kofa's Masson has sights set on 5A-I state title after revamped training regimen
Few have been able to keep up with Tyler Masson. The Kofa senior has put in countless hours on the mat and in the weight room and has the chance to go out with a bang.
The standout 215-pounder is four wins away from his ultimate goal - a 5A Division I state title.
The state tournament begins today at the Wells Fargo Arena on the campus of Arizona State in Tempe. The finals are slated for Wednesday evening.
Masson (49-1), who was second at state a year ago, is one of the favorites. On Saturday, he won the 5A-I Section IV title in sudden-death overtime.
He was one of six Kings to place in the top four at the sectional and advance to state. Ten from Cibola, six from San Luis, four from Gila Ridge and two from Yuma High also qualified for state.
Much of the credit for Masson's success has been attributed to his uncle, Jeremy Spencer, and his work ethic - specifically in the weight room, which begins each morning at 5:30.
"He's one of those great examples of a kid that went from a good junior varsity wrestler to state runner-up a year later," Kofa coach Marty Dillon said. "His biggest improvement has been hitting the weights. His weight training regime and program has really been the glaring difference between what would have been perhaps a mediocre varsity wrestler and state runner-up last year and possibly a state champion this year."
Masson was also influenced by two successful teammates - Jorge Benitez and Justin Wilmas.
Benitez was a two-time state champion at 160 pounds and Wilmas was a state champion at 189.
"I wanted to do what they did," Masson said.
But in order to that, Masson knew he needed to get stronger. Spencer, a math teacher and assistant coach, led the physical transformation that began after the wrestling season ended in 2008.
At the time, Masson a sophomore was working out and lifting weights with the football team in the spring. He was an offensive and defensive lineman.
"I didn't take it as seriously as I should have and look what happened," Masson said. "It was a jump start. I was doing pretty good on JV (wrestling). I was second at JV state both years but I wanted to get first."
Spencer had Masson focus on specific muscles and changed his diet.
"Everything increased," Masson said. "I gained about 80 pounds in everything I did last year and this year I've gained about 20 pounds in everything. I was amazed."
With the added muscle, Masson was able to overpower most of his opponents. In his first full varsity season, Masson went 40-7 as a junior and was the fourth seed at state. He defeated top-seeded and unbeaten William Stemkoski of Kingman in the semis.
"Winning that semi was huge for me," Masson said.
Masson has not only made great strides physically but mentally as well.
"I also give him a lot of credit for learning," Dillon said. "Tyler sets himself apart because he is coachable and loves the sport. Of course being a state runner-up doesn't hurt at all in terms of giving you an awful lot of motivation to want to get better. So, no it's not all brute strength."
Masson has three regular-season tournament titles this season. His only loss came to Tempe-Marcos de Niza's Aaron Pavlenko (19-0) in the Apache Junction tournament final - a rematch of the 2008-09 state 5A-II state final.
It was nearly identical to their previous meeting. Masson fell behind early and suffered a two-point loss.
The two will not meet again as Kofa was moved to 5A-I prior to the start of the current school year. Masson would like another shot at Pavlenko.
"There are some things I'd do different," Masson said. "But I'm not going to see him again so now I all my attention is on the state tournament."