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Gandara hoping to get state title his sophomore year
Only two Cibola wrestlers have placed at the state tournament four times.
Raider sophomore Andy Gandara is looking for his second medal. But his goals are much grander than simply placing in the top six four times.
“My goal is to be a state champion every year,” Gandara said. “Placing all four years, that's just something that's along the way. ... I try not to worry about that and let nature take its course.”
Gandara and the rest of the Raiders open the AIA Division I State Championships Thursday at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. The championship round is Friday, and coach Mike Jankowski said he hopes to have most of his 12 wrestlers going for a medal, including Gandara at 120.
“And he's got a nice draw and everything for this side of the bracket,” Jankowski said. “He can wrestle with anyone in the state, we're not really worried about that, but his side of the bracket looks really good for him. His matchups are really good. The style of wrestling of the guys on his side are exactly where he wants it to be.”
Last year, the Raiders finished 1-1/2 points behind Chandler for a state title. They won their section last week and will have more wrestlers than any school in the tournament except for the 13 Mesa-Mountain View is sending.
Jankowski said it's not how many wrestlers a team has that matters.
“You have to look at the guys who are going to score the points when you get out there,” Jankowski said. “Chandler had two returning state champs, (Tucson) Sunnyside has two returning finalists. We're going in there and a lot of people looked at us to win the state title, but now we're just ... getting ready to take care of one match at a time.”
Gandara is one of the wrestlers Jankowski think can amass a good deal points for the Raiders with a run to the championship match.
“He had a couple down tournaments,” Jankowski said. “Flowing Wells, he didn't exactly perform the way he wanted to against some of the guys he'll se up there at state. But overall it was pretty good.”
And even though he is the No. 5 seed after taking second in the section tournament, Jankowski said junior Pierre Gaud (160) has his sights set on a second straight state title.
“We're still going to make sure we take care of each match one at a time,” Jankowski said. “But Pierre has it in his mind, he wants to be the first three-timer ever. And moving forward he knows what he has to do. Now he just has to take care of it.”
Jankowski said he also think Josh Olsen at 106, Alex Juarez at 113 and Vicente Guerrero at 170 are dark horses for state titles. Luis Nunez (132) and Mark Cruz (145) have shots at a title as well, he said.
He added that wrestlers like Martin Martinez (140), Sergio Contreras (182) and Brandon Firestone (285) sneaking a win or two will make a big difference.
“We kind of lost our attitude we had at the beginning of the year where it doesn't matter where a wrestler is from or who a wrestler is, and we're going to get back to that,” Jankowski said. “We're going to get back to the attitude that if you step out on to the mat with us, you're telling us that you're better than us. We're going to prove you wrong.”
Jankowski said last year the team was “bit in the butt” by looking past early-round matches, but Gandara said he is ready for each match.
“I feel I just have to keep pressure of myself,” Gandara said. “I have to wrestle my style and not fall into anyone else's, then I should be OK.”
Jankowski may be talking about Gandara placing four times in his career at state — something that's only been twice previously at Cibola, by Gabriel Miranda and Rafael Jaimes — he said he knows Gandara is also focused on this year.
“Anytime you place as a freshman, you expect yourself to place the next four years,” Jankowski said. “With how hard he works, he's expecting more than placing every year. He wants to get some titles looked, and rightfully so wants to be looked at by colleges, because he is that hard of a worker and that good of a wrestler.”