PRESCOTT VALLEY - Every year there is one weight class that is steeped in talent.
First-round losers could be possible semifinalists at other weights. Winning it should be worth Outstanding Wrestler consideration at the very least and probably should be awarded two medals just for surviving.
This year that weight class is 138 pounds in Division I. It simply is a meat grinder: Those who enter may start out in one piece but by the time they come out the other end there are only bits and pieces left.
And that was just to the get through the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon at Tim's Toyota Center as some of the matches could have easily been state title matchups if the bracket was redrawn.
At the center of it was Desert Vista's Robert Sobarzo, who did enough to place at state last year but was disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Tucson Sunnyside's Andres Piedra, who was a state runner-up last year and had a 34-3 record.
Both came in hungry to erase that misstep and when they met up in the quarterfinals it was nearly a brawl. Both had to take injury time because of shoulder issues. Scoring was minimal as they countered each other time after time.
It was tied at three in the closing seconds when Sobarzo, who was at least four inches shorter than Piedra, finally got past the leverage that the latter's spindly legs provided, for a takedown at the buzzer.
Piedra, who had to get past Chandler's Dalton Moran in the first round, crumbled to the mat while Sobarzo looked like he had the energy to start the next round as soon as the referee was done raising his hand.
"You can't look ahead or you will get caught," said Sobarzo, who improved to 34-6. "I couldn't think about anything but the kid in front of me. My goal for the day was to win two matches, but I didn't think about making the semifinals until I was actually there."
It will be one heck of a semifinals on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. with a heavy East Valley flavor.
Sobarzo will take on Corona del Sol's Daniel Cartagena, who is 43-1 and the top seed. On the bottom half of the bracket, state placer Bryant Wood (42-0) faces Highland state champion Curt Done (22-1).
Done beat one of the state's top freshman in Mountain View's Blake Monty, which he did handily with a 16-5 decision in the quarterfinals.
If consolation wrestlers like Monty, Piedra and Moran were at another weight it wouldn't be surprising to see them on the top half of the bracket on the second day.
When the brackets come out, coaches take different approaches. They are readily available on the Internet so there is no keeping the kids from seeing them anymore as some did long ago, but they do go out of their way to make sure each wrestler is focused on the match in front of him.
With a kid like Done, a state champion that is very self-motivated, Highland coach Abel Figueroa can almost put it in cruise control.
"He likes the hard matches instead of the chump matches because he wants to be pushed," Figueroa said. "I think he is up for it. He is already a state champ and he knows what he wants. They have to come get it from him. He pretty much wrestles the way he wants to."
The Division I team race is going to something special this year with so many teams vying for the crown.
Through the two championship rounds Chandler led with 57 points, Sunnyside was second with 56 and was followed by Horizon at 54 while Desert Vista and Corona del Sol were tied for fourth at 53 points.
Chandler was buoyed by several pins in the quarterfinals, including one by two-time champion Dalton Brady, who at one time wasn't going to wrestle in Arizona as he worked out at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado.
"I love being back in Arizona," said Brady, who had two pins totaling 1 minute and 31 seconds of mat time at 120 pounds. "I go into matches expecting to win, but you have to play a mental game (when you know you are far superior than your opponent). Every dog can have his day and you can get caught at any time."
The Thunder have five in the semifinals in freshman Brian Mitchell (106), two-time champion Robbie Mathers (132), state placer Derek Allen (145), returning champion Alex Bambic (195) and Sobarzo.
Mountain Pointe brought three wrestlers with junior Cody Rojas (113) being the only first-round winner before he was pinned in the second period by Horizon's Travis Matt, the top seed.
"Sometimes you get caught," Pride coach Shannon Radford said.