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SUNSET WRESTLING: Aggies hold off Shadow Ridge for region crown

As expected, Arbor View captured the Division I Sunset Region wrestling tournament, outdistancing 2015 champion Shadow Ridge, 179-165.

The Aggies will send 10 wrestlers to next week’s state tournament in Primm, while the Mustangs will be represented by eight.

Cimarron-Memorial took third place with 156 points, and advanced six to state, and Centennial (126) eked out fourth place over Bishop Gorman (125). The Bulldogs will send six to Primm, while Gorman will have four representatives at state.

The Aggies were tabbed as the favorite by Sunset coaches to win the event, but someone forgot to tell Arbor View 152-pounder Tyler Roper.

“I knew going into this tournament we would be underdogs, but I just went in doing what my coaches always tell me — do what I gotta do and good things will follow,” said Roper, whose championship match was one of the more entertaining finals of the night. “If everybody does what they’re supposed to as a unit, the rest will take care of itself.”

Roper’s championship bout against Centennial’s Tucker Edwards was an intense back-and-forth affair for most of the match. Roper led 4-3 late in the third period, but was called for stalling just before the buzzer, tying the score as time expired. Roper wasted no time in overtime, rushing Wallace for a quick takedown to earn a 6-4 win.

Roper’s victory sealed the region title for the Aggies.

Arbor View got most of its points leading up to the finals, which was a good thing. Alexander Espinoza, who defeated Bonanza’s Elias Aguilar, 6-2 in OT, at 220 pounds, was the only other champion for the Aggies.

In another tight match, Gorman junior Mason Campbell survived a scare from Arbor View sophomore Dawson Downing, not to mention a controversial call that saw the referees overturn a takedown for Downing in the third period. Campbell opened quickly with a 2-0 lead, and was up 3-1 after two periods. After Downing escaped at the 1:16 mark of the third period, he lifted Campbell and appeared to come down on the ring of the boundary. Downing was given the takedown to move ahead, 4-3, but after an appeal by Gorman’s coaches, and a conversation by two referees, the takedown was ruled out of bounds and Campbell and held on for the win.

“I haven’t gotten what I wanted the last two years, so this is the year I needed to put it all together,” said Campbell, who overcame offseason shoulder surgery and took six months off to recover. “Ever since I came back in September, it’s been my goal to get back here and go after that state title.”

Campbell’s teammate, Santi Bent, rolled through the tournament and knocked off Cimarron’s Jesse Saavedra, 7-4 for the 126-pound title. Gorman’s Joey Mazzara dominated Arbor View’s Destry Talledo, 13-5, for the 170-pound crown.

Cimarron’s Nathaniel Garcia defeated Arbor View’s Austin Heese, 13-5, for the title at 195. Garcia, who lost early in last year’s event and was forced to battle back to take third in order to qualify for state, said he used that as motivation to stay focused this season.

“I improved on my work ethic, I listened to my coaches a lot more and did a good job of not getting inside my own head,” Garcia said. “This year I just wrestled match-by-match, taking it one match at a time and didn’t think about the finals until I got there.”

Also winning for Cimarron was 145-pounder Stanton Peay, who pinned Durango’s Donzae Jones at the 4:24 mark.

Shadow Ridge had four individual champions as Francisco Martinez (106) defeated Arbor View’s Tristan Gallagher, 16-0; Alika Villatora (120) beat Cimarron’s Daniel Rodriguez, 7-0; Jamison Rand (138) stopped Legacy’s Dion Jones, 8-2; and Tyler Carter (285) topped Centennial’s Arath Rangel, 4-1.

Palo Verde had two champions, as 160-pounder Josh Pine pinned Gorman’s Garrett Wallace at the 1:06 mark, and Jonathan Carpenter scored an exciting 8-6 overtime win over Shadow Ridge’s Kevin Henry at 182.

Centennial’s Ryan Pierce squeaked out a 5-3 win over Cimarron’s Nathaniel Rodriguez for the 113-pound title.

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