PRESCOTT VALLEY — The Division III and Division IV state wrestling tournaments taking place this Thursday and Friday will be kicking off what will be a busy month for the Findlay Toyota Center here in Prescott Valley, starting at 10:30 am Thursday.
The state tournament participants were determined based on sectional results from last weekend meets at Winslow and Bourgade Catholic in Phoenix. In total, Chino Valley, Prescott, Bradshaw Mountain and Mayer qualified 24 wrestlers for the state meet.
The Cougars have been the dominant team in the valley this year, winning the Legler Quad-City Cup for the first time in three seasons and their sectional tournament showing didn’t disappoint.
The Cougars finished first place as a team with 217.5 points, which was well clear of second place Show Low with 174 total points and Snowflake with 153.
After a strong sectionals performance, head coach Kevin Geise is confident is his team’s ability heading into Thursday and Friday.
“We feel good about our chances,” Geise said. “We have 11 wrestlers that qualified in one of the hardest sectionals, so we are feeling pretty confident that we can do well if we show up the way we have (shown up) all year.”
For the Cougars, 106-pounder Hunter Lane (4th), 113-pounder Colby Evans (2nd), 120-pounder Wade Payne (2nd), 126-pounder Lane Evans (2nd), 132-pounder Colton Jasper (4th), 152-pounder Kyle Lund (1st), 160-pounder Clayton Stephenson (3rd), 170-pounder Keller Rock (1st), 182-pounder Dakota McMains (3rd), 220-pounder Samson Estala (2nd), and HWT Jimmy McCormick (1st), all qualified for the state tournament.
However, the road remains tough for the Cougars as the top teams in the state will be in attendance.
“Of course there are other powerhouses out there such as Yuma, Safford and Walden Grove, but we feel we match up with them fairly well,” Geise said. “As long as all of our wrestlers provide us with some team points like they all did in sectionals, I believe we have a great shot at being in the top five teams for the state in our division.”
The Badgers also faired fairly well in the sectional tournament this past weekend, where they finished in fourth place with 102 team points, just ahead of Bradshaw Mountain at 101.
The Badgers qualified six wrestlers, 126-pounder Colton Tomitz (3rd), 132-pounder Lincoln Eby (2nd), 138-pounder Andrew Salberg (3rd), 145-pounder Jack Northrup (3rd), 170-pounder Koby Coates (3rd), 182-pounder Nate Goligoski (4th), for the state tournament.
Their performance at sectionals capped off a strong season for the Badgers, where they closed out the regular season with a second place finish in the Legler Quad-City Cup, only losing to the Cougars, 51-24, in the final.
“I believe the six that qualified have the tools to place top-3,” Badgers head coach Enrique Carreon said.
“The key to achieving this is to remain focused, persevere and endure the challenges of (our) opponents.”
The Bears this season have had some strong individual performers with Nick Foshee often leading the way. Bradshaw finished third at the Quad-City Cup in their regular season finale and the Bears finished in fifth place this past weekend only trailing Prescott by one point at the sectional meet.
Their fifth place performance was good enough to qualify four wrestlers for the state tournament this weekend in Prescott Valley.
For the Bears, 145-pounder Owen Alvarez (4th), 152-pounder Nick Foshee (2nd), 170-pounder Parker Hines (4th) and 220-pounder Cameron Harris (4th), were the qualifiers.
The Wildcats only sported a small team in the Legler Cup two weeks ago but they were able to qualify all three wrestlers for the state tournament this year.
145-pounder John Blasco (4th), 170-pounder Gage Statler (4th), and 220-pounder Marcos Leal (4th), will represent Mayer in the Division IV tournament.
Chris Whitcomb is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @AZChris32. Email him at email@example.com, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2031.