Corona Wrestling — Corona’s wrestling team, with 10 wrestlers qualifying for the Division I state tournament held in Prescott Valley Feb. 7-8, placed third behind Sunnyside and runner-up Chandler.
“Our team did great in ‘wrestle-backs’ to climb to within five points of taking second place,” said Coach Jim Martinez. “Seven of our 10 wrestlers who qualified for state placed in the top five in their weight class.”
Juniors Glenn Farina (132 lbs.) and Ethan Tursini (160 lbs.) won championships.
Tursini, with an impressive unbeaten record of 44-0 entering the state tournament this season, pinned his first two opponents, won by decision (4-3) against the third and then won the championship by decision (4-2).
“Ethan defeated the Division I state champion Pierre Gaud of Cibola in a come-from-behind victory in the finals,” said Martinez.
Farina, also with an outstanding 38-4 record, defeated his first three opponents by technical falls of 18-2, 16-1 and 18-3. His championship match went into overtime where he defeated Luis Nunez of Cibola in sudden victory to win his first championship according to Martinez.
“The last two years I have fallen short at the state tournament, taking sixth both times,” said Farina. “This time I finally ended the season on a good note and it felt so amazing to be on the top of that podium.”
“It was especially gratifying because I woke up sick on the second day of competition but managed to win anyway,” said Farina. “I learned a valuable lesson. It doesn’t matter what happens or doesn’t happen because when you really want to win you will find a way.”
Both junior Zach Walton (145 lbs.), who entered the tournament with a 39-4 record, and Bridger Barker (170 lbs.), with a 38-8 record his freshman year, took third place at state for Corona.
Walton defeated his first two opponents by technical falls of 20-5 and 9-4 before losing an 8-12 decision in the third round. After that loss, Walton regrouped and pinned his final opponent, Sunnyside’s Aaron Steinbach, in 0:47 seconds flat to be able to stand on the podium for third.
“Zach and Bridger’s only losses during the state tournament were to eventual champions,” said Martinez.
Barker, who won by decision his first two rounds before losing by decision his third round, defeated Cibola’s Vincente Guerrero in a last second reversal to earn a 4-2 final score and take third according to Martinez.
“The level of intensity at the state tournament was the highest I’ve very experienced,” said Barker. “I was thrilled to place alongside so many top caliber wrestlers.”
Barker learned some lessons in his first state tournament that may increase his odds of making it to the top of the podium next season.
“I learned that I need to use my offense first before my opponent can use his,” said Barker. “Besides reinforcing how to defend against the Fairfax roll, making sure I have good drill partners like I had this year in Zach Walton, Ethan Tursini and Colton Winstead, will be important for my improvement next season.”
Another freshman Alex Carrillo (106 lbs.) and sophomore Brix Kronborg (195 lbs.) took fourth place.
Carrillo (35-12), who is only 14 years old, was pitted against an experienced wrestler, junior Alex Wimbish of Mesquite, in his first state tournament round. Right off the bat he ended up in the loser’s side of the brackets after being defeated in a close 9-10 decision.
“That first match was tough,” said Carrillo. “I was able to come back, though, and win four matches in a row including beating that wrestler, Wimbish, who I lost to in the first round.”
“Alex fought back, winning four straight matches against wrestlers who had defeated him earlier in the year,” said Martinez. “His 7-0 decision in the fifth round, over Wimbish, earned him an opportunity for a third place finish although he eventually lost to Josh Olson of Cibola to take fourth.”
Kronberg, 30-15 heading into the state tournament, won his first two matches before a 2-5 decision in the third sent him into the loser’s bracket. Kronberg fought back to win his fourth match 4-3 to try for a third place finish. He lost in that final round in a 5-3 decision.
“Brix did a good job at state wrestling the entire tournament with an injured back,” said Martinez. “He earned his third place by pulling out two one-point victories.”
“I messed up my back pretty bad in practice the day before state,” said Brix. “I was just trying to do what whatever I could to win. It was very rewarding to take fourth especially after all the hard work I put in over the season and then to get hurt the day before state.”
Junior Colton Winstead, 24-9 this season, won his first match in a 9-2 decision and then lost 4-6 in the second. In the loser’s side of the 152-pound weight category, he wrestled back to win his third match in a 9-3 decision, his fourth in a 9-2 decision and then ultimately pinning his opponent in his sixth match, after losing in the fifth round, to take home fifth place.
“Colton had a stunning 37-second fall in his final match to win fifth place,” said Martinez. “His continual improvement throughout the year enabled him to finish strong when he needed it most.”
Also representing Corona at the Division I state tournament were wrestlers Matt Churchill (120 lbs.), Josh Caliendo (220 lbs.) and Chris Moore (285 lbs.).
Marcos de Niza Wrestling — The Padres, who tied for sixth place with Liberty at the Division II state wrestling tournament, qualified eight wrestlers out of the Section III tournament. Of these wrestlers, two ended up in the championship finals.
Senior Derek Crain, entering the state tournament with a 39-2 record in the 220 pound category, won the championship trophy with a major, 9-0, decision over Danny Reyes from Barry Goldwater High School.
Another senior, Jesse Morales, wrestling at 132 pounds, came in second after losing to Troy Vandall, also of Barry Goldwater. Morales entered the tournament with a 41-6 record.
Also qualifying for state and helping Marcos tie for sixth was junior Richard Florez, who made it into the fourth round and came in 6th place. Florez (138 lbs.) had a 36-8 record before the tournament.
Additional qualifiers included sophomore Ryan Sondrup (126 lbs.), 30-18 record, senior Graham Schmoker (170 lbs.) 31-15 record, junior Brandon Dowland (182 lbs.), 29-8 record, senior Taylor Blankenship (195 lbs), 14-10 and sophomore Adam Baca (285 lbs.), 26-17.