Senior Tobie Roberts puts his Chino Valley opponent in a near-fall position during the championship semifinal round at the Wrangler Wrestling Tournament last weekend. Roberts eventually lost in the championship match at 160 pounds against a returning state champion.

Sun Correspondent/


He is the lone team returnee from the state championship tournament of last year, and he was the last Wrangler standing at this year’s Wrangler Wrestling Tournament last weekend in the Wickenburg High School gymnasium.

Senior Tobie Roberts, who is one of five anticipated state championship returnees for the Wranglers this season, reached the title match in the 160-pound weight class at the annual two-day Wrangler tournament that attracted 16 different schools.

He lost that championship match to San Pasqual High super sophomore Nicholas Steele, who won the state 145-pound title last year as a freshman.Roberts trailed 4-1 after the first two-minute round in the title match and found himself down 8-2 after the second round. The returning state champion from San Pasqual eventually put the Wrangler on his back and recorded a pin in the third period.

Last year as a junior, Roberts qualified for the Division 4 state championships in the 170-pound weight class and finished with a season record of 35 wins and 23 losses.

Wrangler Coach Aaron Grote was anticipating a strong wrestling team this season — with five returnees from last year’s state championships. However, two of those five were injured during the recent football season — both requiring surgeries that wiped out their wrestling season. Senior Austin Doom had finished second at last year’s state championships for the previous two years but a serious knee injury. Senior Joe Moder, who reached the state wrestling championships two years ago as a sophomore but missed that opportunity due to an injury last year, will undergo knee surgery this month due to a football injury sustained late this past fall.

Two other anticipated state tournament returnees — Coach Grote’s son Tate and Tanner Coughanour — decided not to wrestle in their senior year. Grote finished third at the state tournament last year in the 138-pound weight class, and Coughanour qualified for the state meet in the 182-pound class.

Three other expected returnees from last year’s team who didn’t qualify for the state meet also are absent on this year’s roster — leaving Coach Grote with just eight total wrestlers on his team this year that requires at least 14 wrestlers to fill out a full team. Five of those eight are freshmen.

Freshman Vince Rodriguez at 106 pounds, sophomore Daniel Rodriguez at 132 pounds and junior Caleb Dreher at 170 pounds were the other three Wranglers who competed at the varsity level in the local tournament — all eliminated in the consolation rounds. Vince Rodriguez reached the consolation semifinals before losing his final match.

Chino Valley ended up winning both the team competition and the individual matches at the tournament last weekend.

The other 14 teams that competed in the annual event were Valley Christian, Lake Havasu, Youngker, San Tan Foothills, Fountain Hills, Peoria, San Pasqual, Cactus Shadows, Yuma Catholic, Dysart, Northwest Christian, Mayer, Boston Butte and Moon Valley.

The diminished Wranglers competed in a multi-team meet at Parker High earlier this week and now doesn’t compete again until the Joseph City tournament early next month. Their only other home meet this season will be held Friday and Wednesday, Jan. 9.

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