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Nunez, Gandara place second for Cibola
PRESCOTT VALLEY — Mike Jankowski didn't mince words about Leo Nunez's loss in the AIA Division I State Championships first-place match Friday at Tim's Toyota Center.
“We had a state finals match taken away from us,” the Cibola coach said of his 120-pounder's 2-0 loss. “Literally ripped out of our hands.”
Nunez was one of two runners-up and five medalists for the Raiders, who unofficially took fifth after finishing 1.5 points behind a state title last year.
Nunez and Mesa-Corona del Sol's Glenn Farina were scoreless going into overtime. Farina got Nunez up on one leg with about 10 seconds left and briefly brought him to the mat. Nunez popped back up and the two were tangled heading toward the edge of the circle as time expired.
The referee did not signal a takedown, but conferred with the assistant ref after the period ended and awarded Farina a delayed two points and a win.
“It's hard in that kind of situation because the head ref has control of the match,” Jankowski said. “You should never go to an assistant ref for a judgement call. It shouldn't happen in any match, anywhere in any situation what so ever. Like I said, it was literally taken from us. We came up on reaction time and they wrestled another 10 seconds. I understand if you call the takedown right there, and let it be done. But they went another 10 seconds. And it's not the assistant ref's call. It's the head ref's call on the mat. When he goes to him and overturns something, that should never happen.”
Nunez said he was pleased with how his earlier matches had gone heading into the final.
“I went in to my finals match, went all out — bang, bang, bang to the head,” Nunez said. “No excuses. I left it to the ref, so it happened.”
Nunez said he's motivated for next year.
“I'm not hungry for state. I'm starving for a state title,” he said. “By the booing of the crowd, you could say it was a horrible call. But it happened. But I'm going to let it go and win my state title next year. And that's a promise.”
Andy Gandara also took second, losing 2-0 to Chandler's Effren Hernandez.
“He's the hardest worker in the room,” Jankowski said. “He trains at home. He wakes up at 5 a.m. to train. He is our hardest worker by far.”
After winning a state title last year, junior Pierre Gaud settled for third. Josh Olson also took third, but Vicente Guerrero lost his third place match, giving up a reversal very late in a 4-2 loss.
The only other Division I medalist was Carlos Urquijo, who took sixth at 220 for San Luis. A complete list of results were not available after the meet, as the website that provided the results stopped working.
The Raiders had been shooting a state title from the start of the year after last year's close call to Chandler — which took second this year behind Tucson-Sunnyside. But things started to snowball toward the end of the year, with Isaac Camarillo, Miguel Lugo and Mark Sisquerios — all of whom were eying a medal at state — got hurt. Plus Mark Cruz was ejected from the state tournament on Thursday for going into the stands, costing the Raiders points.
But Jankowski said he had some players step up after the injuries, such as Gandara and Nunez. He added wrestlers like Cisco Reyes, Brandon Firestone and Sergio Contreras all came within a win of earning medals after unexpected runs.
“We don't want to make excuses. Bad stuff happened at the end of the year and we moved forward,” Jankowski said. “We still thought we had a chance, but a couple things didn't happen here.”