Just two seasons ago, when Dante Patrick was a sophomore, he was a talented 103-pounder who was quick and slick enough to find his way to the podium as he finished third at the state tournament.
Today he is all grown up.
Patrick will enter next week's Division I state tournament as a sectional champ as the Desert Mountain senior won the 170-pound section III title by handing Horizon's Garrett Ryan a 13-11 overtime loss in one of the better matches of the day at Desert Vista.
"I really didn't care if I won or lost it but figured since it was so close I should go for it," said Patrick, who bumped up from 160 for this tournament. "I just wanted to get into the top two and get ready for the state tournament."
Patrick, who failed to place at state at 130 pounds as a junior, said while his more than 60 pounds heavier than his sophomore year, he is using the same style and it is an advantage.
"I'm bigger and stronger, but I still have my quickness," he said. "Guys this big aren't used to it. They have trouble handling it."
Ryan was considered the heavy favorite for the state title at 170 in one of the weakest weight classes in Division I. When it became known that Patrick bumped up (he was tired of losing weight and being dehydrated) it was clear that Ryan, who placed fifth at state last year, had a new challenger.
Ryan had an 8-5 lead in the second period, but Patrick got a reversal just before the buzzer to close within one. Ryan took a 11-9 lead with a takedown with 53 seconds left, but it was tied with 20 seconds left on another reversal by Patrick.
In the OT Patrick took a chance on a double and finished it off for the win.
"It will put me in a good position next week," Patrick said. "I just have to keep it going."
Desert Vista won the team title after winning six of its seven semifinal matches and came away with three champions in Brian Mitchell (106), Robbie Mathers (132) and Alex Bambic (195).
The Thunder, who were without three of its top wrestlers including returning state champ Kendall Love (126) and state-placer Mike Arredondo (220), finished with eight placers and 192.5 points to best Horizon (186.5) and Mesa Mountain View (181).
Horizon advanced eight to state in Prescott next Friday and Saturday including champions Travis Matt (113), Bryant Wood (138), Samson Imonode (152) and Jeremiah Imonode (182).
Horizon Coach Ben Wick said several of his wrestlers gutted through injuries and illness out of respect for their teammates as much anything else.
"It went as expected other Garrett Ryan," he said. "We had some injuries this week. Samson had his tooth knocked it out. Bryant twisted his ankle and was on crutches most of the week, but they gutted it out for their teammates.
"They did it for the team. Sometimes you don't feel good but the incentive is to help each other. Our team is always together pushing each other up instead of tearing each other down."
One of the better matches of the night had some controversy as Desert Vista's Derek Allen had returning state champion Seth Monty on the ropes before falling 4-3 in three overtimes.
It was scoreless after two periods when Allen chose down, which went against the grain considering Monty's strength is being on top as he loves to crank the cross-body.
With that said, Allen got a reversal with 51 seconds left in the match for the 2-0 lead. Monty was able to escape with 14 seconds left. Allen was being defensive when he was called for stalling just five seconds later.
When Monty went for a desperation headlock, Allen, trying not to give up the big move went out of bounds, was called for fleeing with two seconds left to tie it.
In the third OT, Monty got a reversal for a 4-2 lead with 14 seconds left. Monty was called for stalling with 6 seconds left to make it 4-3 but Allen couldn't escape to tie it.
"I'll just use it as motivation," Allen said of the defeat.
Other area champs were Westwood's Da'Wayne Robertson (120), Mesa Mountain View's Octavio Penunuri (126), Mesa's Dorian Coleman (160) and Mesa's Ben Andrew (220) and Red Mountain's Red Kaledjian (HVY).