PRESCOTT VALLEY - Time trials are usually not associated with wrestling but don't tell that to Tempe senior James Sanchez.
When you are trailing late - by three points - in the most important match of your life, there has to be something that gets you through.
And for Sanchez it was the time trials.
"It was all about conditioning and we do time trials," said Sanchez, referring the running distance they have to accomplish in a certain amount of time. "I hate them when I have to do them, but I am loving them now."
Sanchez got three late takedowns, the last coming in the first overtime period, to beat Rio Rico's Eric Jeong 11-9 for the Division III 132-pound title. He is the Buffaloes' first title winner in four seasons.
"He is a kid who never wrestled freestyle during the offseason, but did this year and told me he wanted to be a state champion," Tempe coach Alex Pavlenko said. "He is the prime example of someone who fully commits and comes away a champion."
Sanchez said the difference was the fact that he took a step back as a junior, placing fifth, after finishing third as a sophomore.
"That really bothered me," Sanchez said. "I didn't want that to happen again and I knew I had to do something different."
Another East Valley finalist was San Tan Foothills' Jake Lee, who pinned Yuma Catholic's Alex Varela in 5 minutes, 16 seconds on a power double leg that was might have been generated from thrash metal bands like Slayer, Pantera and Lamb of God.
That's why he celebrated by whipping off his hair band that was underneath his head gear and started head banging for the San Tan fans in the front row out of respect for this favorite bands.
"He's a little bit crazy but that's what drives him," San Tan coach Brian Freeman said. "He is our leader in our room. When he says it is time to work everyone listens."
He is the school's first true state champion after having a senior transfer from Oklahoma win one after he only spent half of a year in the school. Lee is only a junior and made the leap from finishing fifth last season.
"I eat a lot of cereal," he said in all seriousness. "I gotta have my oats."
Lee added one more thing - "I hope (NFL defensive linemen) Jared Allen sees this (story) and we can hang out one day."
Back to reality.
The other finalist from the area was Campo Verde's Matt Sokhy, whose Cinderella run came to end. After finishing fourth in sectionals, the senior heavyweight advanced to the Division III finals before being upended by Amphitheater's undefeated Austin Andrade.
St. Johns ran away with the team title in Division IV with 236 points as Camp Verde was a distant second at 169. In Division III, Phoenix Thunderbird won with 121 points and Cottonwood Mingus took second at 105.
The East Valley had a very good day as 14 other wrestlers found their way to the podium.
Third place: Ted Rico (Combs, 113, Division III), Zack Yazzie (Higley, 220, Division III), Derek Schiefer (Canyon State, 160, fifth)
Fourth place: Alex Buppert (Campo Verde, 195, Division III),
Fifth place: Rand Hawk (Campo Verde, 145, Division III), Sidney Causey (Tempe, HVY, Division III), Alex Bacon (Valley Christian, 152, Division IV), Alex Farrar (Seton Catholic, 170, Division IV), Talon Higgins (Canyon State, 182, Division IV)
Sixth place: Gabriel Cobb (Williams Field, 106, Division III), Marcus Begay (Higley, 120, Division III), Justin Olmstead (Higley, 138, Division III), Andrew Jensen (Campo Verde, 170, Division III), Miguel Villegas (San Tan Foothills, 152, Division IV).