Green Valley’s wrestling team gathered in the center of the mat for its traditional cheer at the conclusion of the Division I Sunrise Region tournament.
Except this version also came with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” for senior Jared Temple.
Temple, who celebrated his 18th birthday Saturday, was one of seven Gators to win an individual region title as host Green Valley rolled to its sixth straight Sunrise Region championship.
The Gators scored 246½ points, well ahead of second-place Las Vegas with 178 points. Liberty was third with 119½ points, followed by Silverado (119) and Foothill (116).
The top three finishers in each weight class advance to the Division I state tournament next Saturday at Primm.
“Every year is a different team. Different set of personalities, different set of kid,” Green Valley coach Jon Ferry said. “With this group of athletes that we have entered into this tournament … we basically kind of made a pact that I would have their backs and they would have our backs as a staff. I can truly say thank you to them. The journey’s not always easy, and I think this group is special. We take a lot of pride in backing each other up with this group.”
Temple notched a 9-0 decision over Rancho’s Alex Arnone, who dominated his three previous opponents at 170 pounds. Temple scored a takedown in all three periods to capture his second straight region title.
“I thought I’d give myself a nice present and win regionals for me and my family,” Temple said. “I went in tough and tried to stay dominant the whole time and he didn’t score a point on me.”
Giullian Nakamatsu (145), Adrian Ojeda (152) and Robert Razo (182) repeated as region champions, and freshman Desmond Bowers recorded a technical fall at 126 pounds for the Gators, who had nine wrestlers reach the finals. In addition, Green Valley’s Anthony Valenti upset defending champion Robby Kaempfer of Las Vegas 5-2 at 285 pounds.
But the biggest surprise for the Gators came at 195 pounds, as Salvatore Hicks pinned Las Vegas’ Cruz Littlefield in 3:21. Hicks was Green Valley’s nonscoring wrestler in the weight class, which included teammate Cade Van Orden, the defending region champion who lost in the semifinals to Littlefield.
“What a story that is. Unbelievable accomplishment,” Ferry said. “He’s been a backup pretty much his four-year career, and what a way to finish as a backup, to win the entire tournament.”
Las Vegas put five wrestlers in the finals, with 113-pounder Antonio Saldate the Wildcats’ lone winner. Saldate, the defending state champion, pinned Liberty’s Adam Knopow at 2:57.
“I am really proud of my kids,” Las Vegas coach Zach Hocker said. “They’re a bunch of homegrown guys — most of them are second and third-year wrestlers that I’ve really gotten to know — and they deserve to be second in region. They’ve worked their butts off all year. To be second to Green Valley is an accomplishment. We got seven to state, and that’s definitely something we’re proud of.”
Silverado’s R.J. Berdiago used a slick cradle to pin Basic’s Blake Dennett in 2:37 at 120 pounds, and Dean Doss scored an escape with 20 seconds remaining to edge Bailey Davis of Rancho 4-3 at 220 pounds for the Skyhawks’ second champion.
The most exciting match of the finals was at 132 pounds, as Foothill’s Jacob Chavez scored a takedown with eight seconds left in overtime to defeat Las Vegas’ Nick Sablan 12-10.
Sablan led 8-2 in the second period before Chavez scored a late reversal and a two-point near fall to climb within 8-6. Sablan got a takedown with 45 seconds left in regulation to go up 10-7, but Chavez escaped and took down Sablan with 25 seconds remaining to tie the score.
Foothill’s Wyatt English used a takedown late in the second period to earn a 4-0 win over Green Valley’s Cody Chamberlin at 138 pounds.
Liberty’s Jeremy Cedillo scored a reversal late in the second period and a three-point near fall midway through the third on the way to a 7-3 win over Leo Castaneda at 160. Valley’s Ulises Munguia defeated Tyler Dockery of Green Valley 10-5 to win the 106-pound title.
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ