After a year away from the sport as a junior, Mountain View wrestler Conner Stockton came back this season with just one goal: To avenge the loss his brother, Clancy, took to Corona del Sol’s Cory Hale in the 171-pound weight class at the 2005 state championships.
Stockton pulled off the upset of the day with a convincing, 16-8 major-decision victory over Hale to win the 5A Division I, 171-pound state title. Hale came into the match unbeaten at 46-0.
Clancy Stockton, who was unbeaten himself entering his match with Hale last season, was watching from the front row at Glendale Arena.
“We’ll have a match in the wrestling room,” Conner joked.
Stockton was one of four Toros to take home individual titles Saturday, joining teammates Spencer Jackson, who won a tight, 3-2 overtime match in the 140-pound class over Red Mountain’s Jake Kauffman; Justin Castillo, who pinned Dobson’s Joel Williams to win the 145-pound class; and Preston Pico, who knocked off Mesa’s Joe Ray Berumen, 8-2, to win the 152-pound class.
While Hale was unable to stay unbeaten, Mesa’s Anthony Robles increased his season mark to 44-0 by defeating Highland’s Nick Mills in the 112-pound class. Robles’ efforts earned him 5A-I top-wrestler honors, while fellow Jackrabbit Joe Taylor took medalist honors in the 103-pound class.
Highland’s Ryan Becerra also repeated as a champion, staying undefeated for the season as well at 35-0. Becerra defeated Desert Vista’s Jack Porter, 4-3, for the 160-pound crown. Fellow Hawk Spencer Jasper repeated as a champion — this time at 130 pounds after winning the 125-pound class a year ago — while Russell Johnson defeated Mesa’s Cesar Meraz, 3-0, to win the 135-pound class.
The last of the unbeaten, Corona del Sol’s Robert Holbrook, stayed away from the loss column, defeating Mountain View’s Dan Huber in the 215-pound class to finish his season at 46-0.
Like Father, like son.
“Now I get my picture on the wall next to him,” said Marcos de Niza senior Pat Carey, whose 171-pound, technical-fall victory over Peoria Centennial’s Matt Vasquez matched the feat his father accomplished for the Padres in 1975. “He was waiting for me as I came off the mat. He came up and hugged me and said, ‘You did it. You’re a champion.’ ”
Carey also joined teammate Josiah Stotts as a 5A Division II state champion Saturday. Stotts defeated Tucson Sunnyside’s Mikey Moreno with a 10-2 decision in the 103-pound title match at Glendale Arena.
Carey said that while it’s different not wrestling against the likes of Mountain View, Corona del Sol or Highland this year, with those schools now competing in 5A-I, he’s proud of the Padres’ showing — which also included a runner-up finish by Richard Hernandez to Marana Mountain View’s Cliff Engelhart in the 275-pound class — against perennial contenders like Tucson Sunnyside.
As for Stotts, he’s just getting started.
“That was my goal, just to put my name out there for the next few years,” said Stotts, just a freshman yet already a state champ.
Desert Ridge senior Josh McDaniels may have fallen to Peoria Sunrise Mountain’s Blake Ortiz, 3-1, in the championship round of the 135-pound class, but he said reaching the finals was a big step for the Jaguars.
“We practically started the wrestling program here,” he said of himself and his brother, Gabe (fourth at 140). “I’ve been waiting four years for this.”