Queen Creek wrestlers win first state championship in school history

The Queen Creek High School wrestling team is the new DII state wrestling champion.  (Photo credit: Queen Creek High School)

The Queen Creek High School wrestling team won its first team state championship Friday, Feb. 9, at the Prescott Valley Event Center.

As a team, Queen Creek finished with a total of 181 points to Liberty’s 149.5 to take the DII team state championship.

All together, the Bulldogs had three individual state champions, two second-place finishes, two third-place finishes and one fourth-place finish.

The Bulldogs have two runner-up finishes and one third-place finish in school wrestling history.

Last year was one of the team’s runner-up finishes, losing the tournament to Mountain View Marana by just 6.5 points.

This year, the team was determined to win the championship, especially after a disappointing result at sectionals the weekend before the championship game.

The Dogs had 10 wrestlers in the finals at sectionals, but weren’t able to pull off the win. They were, however, able to qualify 11 wrestlers to the state tournament.

Following day one of the state tournament, the Bulldogs were in the lead by almost 20 points. By the start of the final rounds, they had five wrestlers in the finals and three in the third-place match.

“It feels awesome,” said third-year head coach Jacob Goddard of his first win as a head coach. “The kids have the biggest hearts in the world. They had an opportunity and they took it. It’s all on the kids.”

Xavier Rico, in the 120 weight class, was the first to wrestle in the championship match for the Bulldogs. The senior wrestled in the final match last year at the state championships, but was defeated.

This year he won by major decision with a score of 11-1 to become the team’s first individual state champion of the night.

Freshman Seth Fernandez (132) made it to his first state championship match and fought hard, losing a close match by decision at 11-8.

Next up for the Bulldogs was Denen Fernandez in the 145 weight class. Denen was one of two state champions from last year’s roster.

After three straight pins in his opening matches, Denen won by decision at 4-3 to take his second consecutive individual state championship.

Nikolas Manuel (160) wrestled next in the final match and pinned his opponent with just 1:13 on the clock for one more Queen Creek state title.

Senior Anthony Saba (182) was the final Bulldog wrestler to compete in the championship match.

He fell by decision at 7-2, but was a big part of the team state championship, contributing 22 points to the team total.

Seniors Jose Aguilar (152) and Jonathan Matuzak (220), alongside junior Dale Banning, wrestled in the third-place match.

Aguilar and Banning each wrestled a win, while Matuzak fell 3-1 by decision. Aguilar won his match 10-3, while Banning pinned his opponent just 1:38 into the match.

Editor’s note: Jamie Morris is the staff news writer for Queen Creek High School.

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