From Staff Reports
A year after not having a single state wrestler champion and finishing outside the top-five, the Cibola Raiders were at the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division I state tournament with hopes of getting redemption in 2020.
The Raiders did just that by finishing second in team points (173) and delivering three individual state wrestling champions. Liberty took first place with 228 team points.
In the end, Cibola displayed, once again, they’re one of the best wrestling programs, not just in Yuma, but in the state of Arizona.
I am very proud,” coach Marvin Avila said. “Bringing 13 of 13 to sdtate was an accomplishment for us. Once they got here, they worked their tails off. We chased first place, we were behind by three points and everything had to go right for us, we just spread away from third and settled for second. The kids worked their butts off. I am so proud of them.”
Junior wrestler, Juan Sierra (126 pounds), got the night started for the Raiders. Sierra defeated Bryce Bernard, of Valley Vista, by a score of 7-0.
As the No. 1 seed, Sierra dominated each and every opponent, beating Chandler’s Brock Badke by fall over in the first round, wins by major decision over Cael Figueroa (Hamilton) and Isaiah Valenzuela (Hamilton) before clinching the title against Bernard.
“Throughout the season he had some injuries and some breaks, mentally,” Avila said. “It was a tough year for everyone. Over the last three weeks, he came back strong mentally and physically. He looked great this whole tournament. He wasn’t losing tonight.”
In the 145 division, Cibola’s Zeke Guerrero squared off against Kofa’s Anthony Morales as each aimed for its first state wrestling title. After placing second in 2019, Guerrero was eyeing the trophy on Friday night.
It was a tight match between the two, but Guerrero would defeat the top seed Morales in the ultimate tiebreaker 3-2.
That was huge,” Avila said. “He went into triple overtime again this year, but this time he came on top. It was big for him. He built his body up and his mindset to get to this moment.”
Wrestling in the 195 pound class, Liam Hoffmeyer defeated Kimball Begay, of Mountain View Mesa, by a decision and score of 7-4.
“It was a tough match,” Hoffmeyer said. “The hard work in practice and all the great coaching finally paid off. When the referee raised my hand (in support of victory), it was one of the greatest feelings of my life and it was even better due to the fact I was fighting for my sister, Rori.”
Rounding out the second place finishing Raiders was Sebestian Valencia, who placed second in the 160 pound class. Ben Torres (140) and Jordan Mellor (152) each placed fourth in the 2020 AIA state tournament.
Marcos Meza (285) won his fifth place match against Kofa’s Nicolas Moreno to end the night for the Raiders. Demarko Gomez (113) took home a 6th place finish.
All in all, even without their best wrestler in Nick Steele, the Raiders had a fantastic ending to the 2019-2020 season and certainly should be proud of their accomplishments.
Kings has 4 place
Just like last year’s state meet, the Kofa Kings end with four state placers.
Kofa had one wrestler finish second, another place fourth, fifth and sixth. The four wrestlers helped the Kings finish 13th with a total of 60.5 points. The Kings have now gone 11 straight years without a state champion wrestler.
Mentioned earlier, Morales finished second after losing to Guerrero in the finals of the 145 division. Damian Moreno (106) finished fourth, while Raul Aispuro (126) placed fifth and Nicolas Moreno (285) finished sixth for the Kings.