Last year, coach Rusty Marchello thought his Arbor View wrestling team was close to what he called the “Miracle on the Mat.”
The Aggies had by any measure a tremendous season. They won the Northwest League, the Sunset Region and finished third at state. But they were short of one goal, the Miracle: beating Green Valley at the state tournament. And that is the target for Arbor View’s 2016-17 season, which begins Saturday at the Cimarron Newcomers meet.
“I wouldn’t be coaching if I didn’t believe our kids could pull it off,” Marchello said. “If they had to beat them only once, beat them at the state tournament.”
Green Valley has been the summit to which other teams are trying to approach. The Gators have won the past five state championships and produced two individual state champions last year, senior Adrian Ojeda at 152 pounds and junior Robert Razo at 182.
But no dynasty goes untoppled, and the Aggies have as good a chance as any other school to knock off the Gators. Arbor View is led by last year’s 132-pound state champion, Dawson Downing, who lost the Sunset Region championship to Bishop Gorman’s Mason Campbell in a 3-2 decision, then defeated Campbell 11-9 in overtime for the state title.
“I have to work hard to get where I am or else I’m not going to achieve it again,” Downing said. “I think if we all work hard and push each other, we can achieve pretty great things this year.”
Last year might have been Arbor View’s best season. A league title and the program’s first region title is nothing to scoff at, but Marchello has his eyes set on the summit.
“There’s only one other place to go,” he said. “This year looks like an opportunity that’s better than the year before.”
This year, the Aggies plan on having a few weapons come tournament time that they did not have last year. Senior Lawrence Vigil returns to the team at 138 pounds after missing the second half of last season. He started the year 20-0 and qualified for the state tournament in 2014 and 2015.
Senior Matthew Alejandro suffered a concussion at the regional tournament last season and was ineligible for the state tournament. He won the state championship at 160 in 2015 and will return to that weight this season.
Throw in junior Ryder Marchello, who finished fourth in state last season and will wrestle at 145, and junior Tristian Gallagher (113) and senior David Ornelas (152), who both qualified for state last year, and the Aggies have all the makings of a team that just might be able to pull off a Miracle.
“Last year I definitely view it as coming up short,” Ryder Marchello said. “I think they can be beat if we put in the work that we say we’re going to put in.”
Contact Justin Emerson at email@example.com or 702-387-2944. Follow @J15Emerson on Twitter.