Rodriguez, Bowser move on to state wrestling championship tourney

Sophomore Justin Lara was one of nine Wranglers who competed in the Division IV sectional championships last weekend in Buckeye, pinning his third-round opponent (above) but closing out his season with a fourth-round loss in the 220-pound weight class. He was one of the eight Wickenburg High School underclassmen on the Wranglers’ young team this year that will be sending two members to the division state championships this weekend in Prescott Valley.

By Kevin Cloe

Sun Correspondent

One is a sophomore and the other a freshman.

They both won their first two matches at the sectional wrestling finals last Saturday at Odyssey Institute High School in Buckeye.

Then they both challenged seniors in the final round of their respective weight classes, but both came away with losses.

However, Wickenburg High School sophomore Vince Rodriguez and freshman Coy Bowser still qualified for the Division IV state championships this weekend in Prescott Valley with their second-place finishes.

They are the only two Wranglers who advanced to the season-ending state wrestling tournament when they lost their section title matches to more experienced wrestlers. The top four wrestlers in each weight class at sectionals earned an invitation to the state championships.

Rodriguez, with a 43-7 season record, picked up his second-place medal in the 126-pound weight class after pinning his first two opponents before battling senior Miguel Loya (38-7) of Yuma Catholic.

Rodriguez, seeded No. 1 in his weight class, came up on the short end of a 7-1 decision against No. 3-seeded Loya — picking up his lone point when Loya was penalized for stalling tactics in the final two-minute session. It was the first time Rodriguez faced Loya this season.

Bowser, seeded No. 2 in the 170-pound weight class, took less than a total of two minutes to dispose of his first two opponents, but had to settle for second place when he was pinned in slightly more than one minute into his challenge of unbeaten (57-0) and top-seeded Gavin Davis of Arizona Lutheran.

It was the sixth time Bowser faced Davis this season, according to Wrangler wrestling Coach Aaron Grote, who said the Wickenburg freshman was pinned by Davis in each match.

One ill-advised move by Bowser in the first minute of his title match against Davis Saturday led to his quick loss, and both Coach Grote and Bowser sheepishly smiled afterward in recognition of the futility of attempting to challenge the section champion.

“He said he keeps trying something new against him,” grinned Coach Grote of his freshman wrestler. “I just told him it doesn’t matter what he tries; he’s not going to beat him. He’s just too good.”

Bowser only needed 15 seconds to pin his first-round opponent Saturday, and then brushed off his second-round challenger with a pin only 1 minute, 18 seconds into the match. He will head to the Division IV state championships this weekend in Prescott Valley with a 39-11 season record.

Seven other Wranglers competed at the section tournament last weekend but couldn’t finish in the top four of their respective weight classes in order to advance to the state tournament. They included:

— Freshman Zach Dalley at 126 pounds, losing his only two matches in a 13-4 decision and a third-period pin to finish the season 16-27.

— Freshman Levi Bindle at 132 pounds, pinned his first-round challenger in the first period before losing two of his next three matches to finish 29-29.

— Junior Daniel Rodriguez at 138 pounds, won his first-round match with a 6-0 decision but was eliminated when he was pinned twice in the next two rounds. He finished the year 38-22.

— Senior Caleb Dreyer at 160 pounds, lost a 19-17 decision in his first-round match before scoring a 13-2 victory in the second round prior to being pinned in the second period of his third-round match. He capped his wrestling career at Wickenburg High with a 21-20 season record.

— Sophomore Michael Bowie at 182 pounds, lost his only two rounds of matches on 8-4 and 13-2 decisions, and finished 27-25.

— Sophomore Domitio Esquivel at 195 pounds, eliminated after being pinned in the second rounds of his two matches and finished 17-20.

— Sophomore Justin Lara at 220 pounds, scored a third-round pin after drawing a bye in the first round and losing in the second round. He was eliminated in the fourth round and completed his season 18-22.

The state championships this weekend will be held at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, with matches taking place all day Friday and Saturday. The medal round is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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