5A wrestlers set for sectionals with sights set on making state
Area coaches and wrestlers are all for qualifying for the 5A state tournament.
For the past four years, every 5A Division I or II varsity wrestler could participate in the state tournament.
The only rule was that each school could only send one wrestler in each weight class.
This year, wrestlers will have to qualify for the state tournament by placing in the top four at one of four sectionals taking place today.
"Sending everybody was a kind of a joke because you had byes and you had guys with 1-25 records ," Yuma High coach Jeff Welsing said. "This at least makes it more prestigious - something the kids can look forward to."
The Arizona Interscholastic Association divvied up the sections based on geography.
And this is what has coaches scratching their heads.
"I'm in favor of sectionals because it gives more prestige to the state tournament but not in favor of how they divided them up," Cibola coach Pepe Moreno said.
Yuma's 5A-II schools - Cibola, Gila Ridge and Yuma High - were grouped in Section I with schools in Tucson - Ironwood Ridge, Sunnyside, Marana-Mountain View and Rincon. Phoenix-Perry rounds out the field.
Perry is the only Phoenix school that has to travel outside of the Valley.
Section I is hosted by Ironwood Ridge and has four of the top eight teams from last year's 5A-II team tournament - No. 1 Sunnyside, No. 3 Ironwood Ridge, No. 4 Cibola and No. 7 Marana.
"I feel for Yuma and Gila Ridge who even though they are doing pretty good this year they have three or four teams up ahead of them that they are going to have to get through," Moreno said. "Where if they would have been in a different section the chances of more kids going (to state) would have been a lot higher."
Sunnyside, Ironwood Ridge and Cibola are once again loaded - ranked 1, 2 and 3 r
respectively in 5A-II this year. Each placed in the top six at the Flowing Wells Invitational, arguably the state's premiere prep wrestling tournament, this year.
"I think its going to be pretty tough," Welsing said. "It's fine where we are going. You go to beat the best to be the best. Are some kids going to be left out that are better? Yes. But that is just the way the ball bounces."
In 5A-I, Kofa and San Luis were placed in separate sectionals. The Kings are in Section IV at Phoenix-Desert Vista, while San Luis travels to Section I host Tempe-Corona del Sol.
Gilbert-Highland and Mesa are the other two 5A-I sectional hosts. All of the 5A-I sectional hosts placed in the top four at the state team tournament in 2008-09 and no sectional has more than two teams currently ranked in the top eight.
Sectional survivors then move on to state, which takes place Tuesday and Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Arena on the campus of Arizona State. The arena change is one of two differences this year.
Up until last year, the state tournament was held at a single location on a Friday and a Saturday which made it easier on fans.
Now, the 1A/2A, 3A and 4A state tournaments are held at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
Welsing would like the governing body to makes more changes - namely making it harder to qualify for state by adding a regional before the sectionals. He'd also like to see the classes back under one roof and not have it during the middle of week.
"I've never heard of a state having its state tournaments in different locations," Welsing said. "Some of those 1A/2A, 3A and 4A kids are pretty good."