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Mendivil has sights set on 106-pound city title and beyond
In a weight class dominated by young guys, seniority can make a difference. Nathan Mendivil is hoping to prove that on the state level this year.
First, the Gila Ridge junior gets to prove it on a smaller scale.
Mendivil will go for his first city championship today at 106 pounds at the Yuma City Championships. Last year, he suffered a narrow loss to Cibola senior Rafael Jaimes.
He ended up taking fourth in state last year at Division II, and is 33-1 this year. His coach, David King, said Mendivil was the only state placer back at 106 this year.
Still, Mendivil said he's taking a one-match-at-a-time approach.
“Nothing has really changed,” Mendivil said. “I'm going to keep the same game plan and do my best. Hopefully everything turns out right, and I end up on top.
“I'm just trying my best, and that's what counts most,” he said. “If you try your best, you'll get there eventually.”
King said that Mendivil has a very good chance of lifting some state championship hardware over his head Feb. 8 at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott, and it's his experience that's a big part of that.
“He's a really tremendous build – he's a specimen of a 106-pounder,” King said. “A man-child is what some of the other coaches call him in town. It's an advantage physically and mentally. He's a little more mature than some of the other wrestlers, and he's a little more patient going into those matches. At 106 you usually see high-speed antics, kids flying around everywhere, countering shots and taking shots. Nathan has a very difference patience for 106. He's really explosive, but at the same time he's very calculating, very methodical – which is kind of cool to see at that weight class.”
King preaches the style Mendivil practices, not looking past any one match. And he said his junior is level-headed enough to heed the advice.
“I don't really see him get more or less excited for any one match,” King said. “He's pretty calm about everything he does. Going into our city match, I know he's wrestling a couple boys he hasn't wrestled before.”
The city championship begins at noon today at Cibola, which has won the first two city meets. This year, Yuma Catholic will join the Raiders, Hawks, Yuma High, Kofa and San Luis.
The Raiders and Hawks – both of whom took second in their respective divisions at state last year – have developed into fierce rivals, a rivalry the manifested itself once again last week in a multi-team meet at Yuma High. Both teams left thinking they had won the dual against each other, and after everything was sorted out, Cibola was the winner.
“Last Wednesday was pretty crazy, a lot of excitement,” Mendivil said. “We plan to do pretty well against them. Last Wednesday we kept up pretty good. So (today) we're going to try to do that but be more on the offensive side and take a win from them. We're looking pretty good so far. I'm hoping we can keep that up.”
After the city meet, the Hawks have one more tournament this weekend in Tucson. Sectionals are next week, then qualified wrestlers advance to the season finale.
King said he's happy for Mendivil's success and hopes he can become just the second state champion from Gila Ridge.
“He came up a little short last year, but I think he's matured a lot since then,” King said. “He's a lot more patient. ... He's one of my favorite boys, one I'd like to see do well and win. I like them all, but there are some that stand out. It's good seeing him get what he deserves.”