The parade of champions will be played Friday night in Prescott Valley with 84 6A Conference wrestlers striding out to the center of the Prescott Valley Event Center.
Twenty-eight of those will have still be in contention for a state title while the others will be competing for the next step on the podium and their final placement in the state tournament.
The next two days of wrestling is about adapting to each scenario that comes a competitor’s way.
Some are heading into Thursday’s action expecting be about the 28 finalists, others are focused on placing and another group just wanted to qualify and now have nothing to lose.
All but 14 – one per weight class – is going to lose at some point. It will crush some; their ultimate goal gone, and how they react to it will determine the rest of the tournament.
The toughest match in a tournament is often the consolation semifinals especially for the wrestler who lost in the championship finals and must refocus and change their goal.
There will be 41 wrestlers from the seven Mesa schools including 12 from Desert Ridge and 10 from Mountain View.
How many will find their way to the top of the podium, fulfilling the potential that a coach saw in them so many years ago with a state championship?
None of this year’s Mesa qualifiers have one; there have not been many years, if any, that a season went by without a wrestler from a Mesa school winning an individual title.
Here is a closer look at some of the competitors as they prepare for one last tournament
Jeremiah Hollen, Jr., Mountain View, 195 pounds
Hollen finished as the state runner-up last year, getting pinned in the finals. He has pretty much cruised this season, but the one and only loss – the semifinals of the Peoria Invitational – might have been the most important.
“I went back into the room looking to get some answers questioned,” Hollen said. “I kind of got lazy and wasn’t working on some of those things I needed to work on to get better. I’m a different wrestler now because of it. I’m focused on winning that state title.”
Antonio Esteban, Sr., Desert Ridge, 145
There may be no one more thankful for being at the state tournament.
Esteban won the sectional title last weekend. It was the first time he ever finished as a champion of a high school tournament.
“My focus was to be a state qualifier, and then once I made the finals I wanted to be a sectional champ,” he said. “Now that I am here I want more – state placer, state champion. Once I put my mind to something I go out and do it and it feels 100 percent doable.”
Esteban is ready for this weekend, one that couldn’t have seemed even remotely possible about a year ago when he was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, a form of cancer caused by a chromosome mutation that occurs spontaneously.
There was a time when he felt like the cancer defined him; now he is two days of great wrestling away from being labeled something other than a cancer patient.
“There were so many days where I thought I wouldn’t get this far; that I would come up short,” he said. “Once I got back to wrestling I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from working as hard as I can to become the best wrestler I could be.”
Bowen Doolen, Jr., 132, Mountain View
Doolen is the younger brother of a state champion; never an easy thing to step on the mat with as expectations can follow a name.
He has done good job of creating his own path as Doolen won a sectional title last week.
“I’ve been (to state before) and I’m better prepared and I’m a better wrestler,” he said. “All the hard work and long practices get you prepared for this weekend.”
Dillon Stevenson, Sr., 182, Desert Ridge
The offseason is when most wrestlers make their biggest strides. Mat time is where it is at. Perfecting skills and technique in addition to wrestling live is vital for growth.
Stevenson used most of that time to mend.
He dislocated both shoulders at different times and didn’t get a chance to develop his ability as much as he would have liked.
Stevenson steps on the mat wearing shoulder braces, but it didn’t hinder him from winning a sectional title in overtime.
“It was a tough to get through some of it, but I am ready to go,” he said. “I have one more tournament I have to get through then I don’t care what happens to my shoulders.”
Paul Alvarado, Jr., 120, Mesa
Alvarado has only 12 matches on the season after missing a portion of the season while dealing with his grades.
He knows he missed out on some important matches but trusts his experience at Thorobred and Sunkist wrestling clubs will get him through.
“I’m worried about the results as much as trying to get better every day,” he said. “Last years’ experience at state helps, but not as much as my time at (the clubs). I’m ready to see what I can do against the best kids at my weight.”
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 6A state wrestling tournament is in Prescott Valley with two sessions on Thursday (10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.) and two on Friday (10 a.m. and 7 p.m.).
Ezra Grimes (Mesa, 23-15, Soph.) vs. James Brown (Sunnyside, 44-0, Frosh.)
Charles Boyle (Westwood, 53-5, Jr.) vs. Anthony Gonzales (Corona, 36-11, Sop.)
Hunter Richards (Mtn View, 30-3, Soph.) vs. Ethan Rider (Millennium, 34-12, Soph.)
Tanner Castillo (Red Mountain, 43-16, Jr.) vs. Benjamin Alanis (Chandler, 25-5, Frosh)
Matt Martinez (Skyline, 43-7, Jr.) vs. Eric Ramos (Hamilton, 48-12, Jr.)
Porter Ray (Desert Ridge, 34-20, Soph.) vs. Zack Kvavle (Corona del Sol, 41-3, Jr.)
Everett Gomez (Desert Ridge, 44-13, Jr.) vs. Ben Goettl (Brophy, 24-11, Soph.)
Paul Alvarado (Mesa, 8-4, Jr.) vs. Julian Duel (Basha, 27-19, Jr.)
Bradley Basgall (Mtn View, 36-11, Jr.) vs. Marco Rivera (Tucson, 41-11, Sr.)
Alex Wood (Desert Ridge, 18-4, Jr.) vs. Michael Orr (Corona del Sol, 7-5, Jr.)
Christian Riordan (Mesa, 42-4, Sr.) vs. Alex Rodriguez (Basha, 17-6, Jr.)
Zach Karantinos (Red Mountain, 58-3, Sr.) vs. Josh Jenkins (Westview, 23-12, Jr.)
Bowen Doolen (Mtn View, 32-5, Jr.) vs. Jesus Morales (Hamilton, 28-15, Jr.)
Trey Pacheco (Desert Ridge, 30-16, Jr.) vs. Diego Herrera (Cesar Chavez, 11-7, Jr.)
Steven Jarman (Mesa, 43-4, Jr.) vs. Jesus Rivera (Desert Vista, 18-7, Frosh.)
Michael Guliano (Desert Ridge, 26-14, Sr) vs. Tanner Waite (Highland, 41-4, Sr.)
Adam Booth (Mtn View, 34-14, Soph.) vs. Matt Ford (Horizon, 43-7, Sr.)
Cody Foote (Red Mountain, 42-13, Jr.) vs. Kyle Yazzie (Westwood, 17-7, Frosh.)
Antonio Esteban (Desert Ridge, 30-13, Sr.) vs. Parker Horne (Basha, 20-16, Soph.)
Connor Blakeman (Red Mountain, 36-10, Soph.) vs. Amando Arellano (Corona del Sol, 31-8, Sr.)
Ali Hansen (Mesa, 35-8, Jr.) vs. Jaden Kaufman (Mtn Ridge, 21-6, Jr.)
Isaiah Plata (Desert Ridge, 27-15, Sr.) vs. Jacob Correa (SD O’Connor, 32-5, Jr.)
Braxton Luke (Mtn View, 22-16, Soph.) vs. Aaron Gandara (Cibola, 34-2, Soph.)
Rainen Schiffner (Mtn View, 31-11, Sr.) vs. Zeke Guerrero (Cibola, 28-7, Soph.)
Gianni Andrade (Skyline, 16-16, Sr.) vs. Cody Lewis (Desert Ridge, 47-5, Sr.)
Riley Smith (Desert Ridge, 15-17, Jr.) vs. David Castaneda (Cibola, 20-2, Sr.)
Sam Heslop (Mesa, 42-8, Sr.) vs. Jack Kollings (Boulder Creek, 51-6, Sr.)
Dillon Stevenson (Desert Ridge, 40-9, Sr., vs. Sergio Orozco (Cesar Chavez, 25-6, Sr.)
Wayne Dunn (Mtn View, 27-16, Soph.) vs. Donovan Corn (Hamilton, 46-3, Jr.)
Andre Lopez (Red Mountain, 46-5, Sr,) vs. Armando Delgado (Desert Vista, 36-9, Jr.)
Jeremiah Hollen (Mtn View, 44-1, Jr.) vs. Sage Davis (Perry, 27-10, Sr.)
Luiz Lopez (Skyline, 30-8, Sr.) vs. Mikel Dillon (Tucson, 30-13, Sr.)
Hunter Wold (Desert Ridge, 35-14, Jr.) vs. Matt Rees (Sunnyside, 39-3, Sr.)
Johnathan Garcia (Mtn View, 42-2, Sr.) vs. James Soto (Sunnyside, 9-2, Jr.)
Drew Meneses (Dobson, 25-2, Jr.) vs. TJ Becker (Mesa, 20-8, Sr.)
Bailey Young (Desert Ridge, 43-7, Sr,) vs. Jacob Moore (Boulder Creek, 17-7, Frosh.)
Matthew Eagar (Westwood, 45-4, Jr.) vs. Hunter Smalta (Mountain Pointe, 35-12, Sr.)
Jeremiah Katt (Mtn View, 36-10, Jr.) vs. Caleb Allen (Highland, 34-10, Jr.)
Prescott Valley Event Center (State Tournament):
$15 Adult All Day Pass
$13 Senior/Military All Day Pass
$5 Student All Day Pass
Children 5 and under admitted free