As the season winds down, Camp Verde High School wrestling is looking just as strong and dominant as usual. Last week, the Cowboys won the Page High School tournament for the third year in a row.
Head coach Tracy Tudor described the tournament this way:
"It was a tough tournament," Tudor said. "It could have went to Desert Hills Utah, because they were a good team. This wasn't an easy task by any means. But, we expected to win it. Because we think we're good enough and we did it."
In addition to winning the whole thing, the Cowboys had five individual champions. They were, Skyler Pike, Hadyen Uhler, Ryan Allred, Jeremy McEachern and Matt Mejia.
But, Tudor said they could have had more champions.
"We expected more," he said. "The Casillas boys (Alex and his brother Equielas) finish second and third. And they were good enough to win the championship."
Equielas Casillas placed second in his weight class and Alex finished third.
"Equielas wrestled well," Tudor said. "He just got out wrestled in the championship match."
Tudor added Alex Casillas cost himself from placing higher.
"He just made a mistake," Tudor said. "Lost it in the last second in the semifinal. He worked his way back up and all the way up to third place."
Tudor mentioned the five champions is still impressive for how hard the tournament was.
"We could have had seven," he said. "Probably should have. But that's okay. That place was for getting things better for what we got going on right now. Which is a championship team."
The Cowboys now have some time off. They don't wrestle again until sectionals, which is a week from Saturday.
Tudor said he was happy with Tuesday's practice.
"It was a great practice," he said. "I just want them to know the look of defeat on their faces because they're working so hard. They know what I'm talking about and they had a great practice."
He added conditioning is an important factor in his team's success.
"We were the best conditioned team at Page," he said. "Half the teams at Page were from out of state. So, we're in better shape than the other states it looks like also. We also have the best technician coach. We have the best technician in the state of Arizona as far as I'm concern."
That great technician is assistant coach Mario Chagolla Sr. Chagolla has coached wrestling at Camp Verde for over 20 years.
"We pretty much have it all," Tudor said. "We just need to stay healthy and injury free."
He added that he expects as many as 14 wrestlers will qualify for the state tournament.
He mentioned there is only one thing that can stop the team from not getting that number.
"Only in our minds," he said. "Our studs do what our studs do. I expect them to win the individual championships. We can have anywhere from seven to 11 champions. They're all capable of doing that."
But, he added he also expects big things from other wrestlers.
"The guys that aren't as experienced, they're capable of being in the top four," he said.
Alex Casillas is a two-time defending state champion. Tudor said it's not a worry that he only finished third at Page.
"Not at all," Tudor said. "He knows the mistake he made. I made a call. He thought he could do something else. It turned out not be the right move. He came to me afterwards and acknowledge that he should have done what I asked him to do. He would have won the match if he did what I asked him to do. But, this is all part of learning for sectionals and state. He was good with it. He owned it. It was a mistake that cost him the championship. But that's how they learn. They're kids and they learn from their mistakes."