By Raymundo Frasquillo
Morenci High School history teacher Casey Woodall recalled the Roman legions having trumpeters herald their triumphant return.
In the 21st Century Saturday afternoon, emergency response vehicles’ sirens blared to announce the victorious return of Morenci’s wrestling team, with a law enforcement escort.
Morenci’s 218 total points scored were 48 more than runner-up St. Johns (170). Camp Verde placed third with 161 points, Phoenix Arizona Lutheran fourth (141.5), Benson fifth (94.5), Winslow sixth (93), Yuma Catholic seventh (70.5), Eagar Round Valley eighth (62), Kayenta Monument Valley ninth (58.5) and Willcox 10th (56).
The 2017 state champion wrestlers set four program records and tied two others. This version was first in total points scored in the division state meet (218), plus in combined individual wins by pins (46), wins by pin percentage with 66 (,657, 46-70), and wins percentage with 78 (.781, 70-92) for the state-qualifying and state meets. The ties were qualifying 13-14 entrants with the 2016 team and having seven state finalists with the 2000 team. Although state championship 2003 and 2005 teams both qualified 14-14, those were in the region format involving fewer teams. Morenci scored 236 points in 1999, 232 in 2005, 206 in 2003, 195 in 2001 and 192 in 2000 as a 2A school.
Since 2011, the champions and total points scored at the Division IV meet are Camp Verde with 243.5 points (2013), St. Johns 236 (2012), Camp Verde 229.5 (2014), Morenci 218 (2017), Morenci 208.5 (2016), Mogollon 177 (2011), and Camp Verde 167 (2015).
Numerous hours of hard work and sacrifice culminated with the Woodall-coached Wildcats earning their second back-to-back state championship Feb. 10, the seventh overall since 1999, and the second under its current fourth-year head coach.
“It was really something,” Woodall said. “We didn’t tell anyone. They already knew what we had done.”
Before classes were dismissed Friday afternoon, through technology available in the classroom, the entire student body was aware seven of its members were finalists and two would be vying for third or fourth place. The last round was scheduled for later that evening in the Prescott Valley Events Center.
“My phone was burning up from all the texts I was getting during the final round,” Woodall said. “Former wrestlers and alumni were watching the finals and sending me messages.”
Morenci landed four individual champions in junior Cory Cota (120, 4-0, 1 pin), the program’s 55th overall, first at 120, and 18th as a junior; sophomore Mark Roybal (132, 4-0, 3 pins), the 56th, first at 132, and the 10th as a sophomore; senior Christian White (195, 4-0, 4 pins), the 57th, first at 195, second 3-time, 14th undefeated, 15th multiple champion, and 28th as a senior; and senior Jordan Arbizo (285, 4-0, 4 pins), the 58th, fourth at 285, eighth heavyweight, and 29th as a senior.
Junior Derek Waltrip (113, 3-1, 2 pins), senior Frankie Gonzalez (170, 3-1, 1 pin) and junior Jacob Viera (182, 3-1) were second; junior Nicholas Carrasco (138, 4-1, 1 pin) third and freshman Zachary Waltrip (106, 4-2, 1 pin) fourth. Derek Waltrip was the 38th, Gonzalez the 39th, and Viera the 40th program state runners-up; Carrasco the 57th third placer and Zachary Waltrip the 34th fourth placer.
Sophomore Ruben Casillas (126, 2-2, 2 pins), junior Gabriel Cabrera (145, 1-2, 1 pin), senior Kyle Sarrett (152, 1-2, 1 pin) and sophomore Nathan Willey (220, 0-2) did not place.
Cota pinned Winkelman Hayden sophomore Omar Lopez in 1:10 during the first round, decisioned Camp Verde senior Wes Phillips 14-8 during the quarterfinals and Round Valley senior Dylan Workman 8-6 during the semifinals and posted a 16-6 major decision over St. Johns sophomore Kaiden Smith for the title.
Roybal pinned Queen Creek Casteel sophomore Timothy Mayhew in 1:41 during the first round, Teec Nos Pos Red Mesa senior Ian Lameman in 3:10 during the quarterfinals, and Camp Verde senior Ezekiel Casillas in 4:54 during the semifinals and decisioned California Winterhaven San Pasqual senior Lewis Steele 7-6 during the final.
White pinned Round Valley freshman Colten Knight in 29 seconds during the first round, posted an 18-3 technical fall over Heber Mogollon senior Keola Yazzie during the quarterfinals and pinned St. Johns junior Diego Hernandez in 1:00 during the semifinals and Pima senior Hadley Schmidt in 1:41 during the final.
Arbizo pinned Whiteriver Alchesay sophomore Cesario Hernandez in 22 seconds during the first round, Joseph City senior Ben Spurlock in 3:45 during the quarterfinals, Fountain Hills senior Parker Kuffman in 3:53 during the semifinals and Winslow junior Ahli Foster in 3;40 during the final.
Derek Waltrip pinned Joseph City junior Jesse Hulsey in 49 seconds during the first round and Eloy Santa Cruz freshman Ray Belloc in 1:14 during the quarterfinals, decisioned Mogollon senior Myron Crank 8-1 during the semifinals and was pinned by Camp Verde junior Skylar Pike in 5:38 during the final.
Gonzalez pinned Mogollon sophomore Elisha Begay in 36 seconds during the first round, posted a 12-3 major decision over Fountain Hills senior Kainoa Reid during the quarterfinals, decisioned Yuma Catholic junior Richard Molina 3-1 during the semifinals and was decisioned 4-10 by San Manuel senior Franky Renteria in the final.
Viera decisioned Yuma Catholic junior Sam Cheung 5-1 during the first round, Ganado junior Liam King 4-1 during the quarterfinals, Willcox senior Rafael Villegas 3-2 during the semifinals and was decisioned 3-5 by Benson freshman Clayton Goodwin during the final.
Carrasco pinned Many Farms senior Ryan Bitsui in 32 seconds during the first round, chalked up a 20-6 major decision over Wickenburg senior Ethan Lamb in the quarterfinals, was pinned by Saint Johns senior Trent Sherwood in 5:54 during the semifinal and decisioned Winslow senior Brayden Garcia 6-2 during the consolation semifinal and Coolidge junior David Marquez 8-4 for third place.
Zach Waltrip notched a 17-1 technical fall over Mogollon freshman Melton Curley during the first round, was pinned in 3:18 by Phoenix Arizona Lutheran junior Blake Wene during the quarterfinals, decisioned Hayden junior Mikee Mariscal 9-5 during the consolation second round, posted a 13-1 major decision over Santa Cruz sophomore Mark Saucedo during the consolation third round, decisioned Phoenix Northwest Community Christian junior Tanner Webb 6-4 during the consolation semifinals and was pinned in 2:09 by Wene to finish fourth.
Casillas pinned Winslow senior Tohbe Smith in 2:52 during the first round, was pinned by Arizona Lutheran senior Isai Barajas in 1:57 during the quarterfinals, pinned Keams Canyon Hopi senior Kyle Secakuka in 1:39 during the consolation second round and was decisioned 2-4 by Joseph City junior Trey Tuckfield during the consolation third round.
Cabrera was pinned by Yuma Catholic senior Devon Madrid in 5:10 during the first round, pinned Santa Cruz sophomore Andres Jimenez in 2:27 during the consolation first round and was decisioned 5-11 by Round Valley senior Sullivan Udall during the consolation second round.
Sarrett succumbed 0-2 in overtime after a 5-5 regulation tie to Camp Verde senior Oscar Berrelez during the first round, pinned Coolidge freshman Nathan Lucero in 4:12 during the consolation first round and fell by a 0-8 major decision to Fountain Hills senior David Butler during the consolation second round.
Willey forfeited to Round Valley John Stokes during the first round and to Phoenix Christian senior Dorean Gardner during the consolation first round.
Woodall was assisted by Gilbert Padilla, Joseph Garcia, Nathan Dominguez, Anthony Gomez, Frank Gonzalez Sr., Mark Martinez and Travis Torres.
St. Johns had eight placers, two champions in freshman Tanner Crosby (106) and senior Dawson Avila (145), two runners-up, a third, a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth.
Camp Verde had six placers, four champions in junior Skyler Pike (113), freshman Korben Uhler (126), senior Hayden Uhler (138), and sophomore Tristian Stanfield (220), a third, and a fourth.
The other four champions were Arizona Lutheran sophomore Weston Milnes Bowers (152), Pima junior Ryne Lewis (160), San Manuel senior Franky Renteria (170), Benson freshman Clayson Goodwin (182),
For the other Section II members, Benson had 4-6 place in first, third, fourth, and fifth; Willcox 2-8 in third and sixth; Pima 2-6 in first and second; Bisbee 2-3 in fourth and fifth; Thatcher 1-2 in third; San Manuel 1-4 in first and Globe 1-4 in sixth.
Tombstone (2) did not have placers, and Santa Rita (2), San Carlos (2), Baboquivari (1) and Tohono O’odham (1) had none of its entrants place or score.
Arizona College Prep ended 11th with 53.5 points, Pima 12th (51), Wickenburg 13th (47), Fountain Hills 14th (44), Joseph City 15th (40), Fort Defiance Window Rock 16th (38.5), Coolidge 17th (37), Bisbee 18th (36), Thatcher 19th (35) and Mogollon 20th (34).
Eloy Santa Cruz Valley Union finished 21st (33), San Manuel 22nd (31.5), San Pasqual 23rd (28), Parker and Northwest Christian tied for 24th (24), Ganado and Globe tied for 26th (20), Casteel 28th (15), Wellton Antelope Union 29th (13) andTuba City Keams Canyon Hopi and Hayden tied for 30th (12).
Red Mesa was 33rd (7), Tempe Prep, Tombstone and Alchesay tied for 34th (6), Chandler Prep and Phoenix Christian tied for 37th (4), Pinon 39th (1), and Chandler Valley Christian, Many Farms, Mayer, Mohave Valley River Valley, San Carlos, Sells Baboquivari, Sells Tohono O’odham and Tucson Santa Rita did not score.