PRESCOTT VALLEY — Gila Ridge had one state champion in its school history. That number skyrocketed Friday.
Nathan Mendivil and Austin Gerber finished first in their weight classes at the AIA Division II State Wrestling Championships, helping the Hawks to their second straight second-place finish behind Ironwood Ridge.
“It's great to have two state champs, especially those two boys,” Gila Ridge coach Dave King said. “They worked hard and deserved to end up on top.”
The Hawks had a total of six medalists — Isaac Saenz was second at 145, Curtis Cox (126) and Joseph Varela (152) were fourth in their weight classes and Sam Kuckuk was fifth at 170.
Not only did Mendivil and Gerber grab wins, they won by pins to secure the second and third wrestling titles — or state titles of any kind — in Gila Ridge history.
Mendivil's takedown took just 1:01 against Jayson Ayala, who he beat twice at the Cholla tournament. The junior said he was glad he wasn't the school's only 2013 champ.
“I'm happy that all my hard work has paid off,” Mendivil said. “I'm also happy ... Gerber won too. It's special to me.”
After a scoreless first period, Gerber pinned Branden Edwards late in the second period.
“It's amazing. I feel great,” Gerber said. “What I accomplished, it's a great feeling.”
King had high praise for both his champs.
“He's a junior that was 50-1 this year and a state champ. That's exciting,” King said of Mendivil. “It says something about the future of our program, what we have coming back next year.”
He said hard work is a trait of Gerber as well.
“He's just a great kid, just a kid who has lived wrestling,” King said. “He's a kid that shows if you bust your (butt) and do a little bit extra you get what you deserve.”
For the second straight year, the Kings finished well behind Ironwood Ridge — 216.5-128.
“I'd like to have closed that gap on Ironwood Ridge, but they have a great program,” King said. “But if they're good, it pushes us to be better. But I hate second. I really do.”