Photo by Bill Helm.
JOSEPH CITY – Top teams from the bulk of Arizona’s divisions gathered Jan. 6-7 for the Joseph City Invitational wrestling tournament.
With 12 wrestlers placing in the weekend tournament, Camp Verde finished second with 462 points, just behind Yuma High School – despite beating the tournament champs in head-to-head competition.
Camp Verde’s 138-pounder Hayden Uhler and 220-pounder Tristian Stanfield both won the championship in their respective weight classes. For Uhler, it’s business as usual, as the senior grappler now has a 30-0 record on the season.
“He’s the best in the state,” said Camp Verde head wrestling coach Tracy Tudor. “And he looks to be our second four-time state champion. He’s bound and determined.”
Stanfield celebrates the new year with a 7-1 record overall after beginning the season academically ineligible.
“To take that championship, that’s something,” Tudor said of Stanfield, a sophomore. “His first meet of the year. And he beat some studs. He beat guys bigger, stronger than him, guys not used to losing.”
Now 33-1 this season, Skyler Pike finished in second place at Joseph City. According to Tudor, Pike, a junior, was “brilliant” at Joseph City, “only to lose in the championship.”
Taking third place at Joseph City were 126-pounder Korben Uhler, 132-pounder Ezequiel Casillas and 152-pounder Oscar Berrelez.
Korben Uhler, a freshman, is keeping wrestling in the family, as he is the younger brother of Hayden. After Joseph City, the younger Uhler is now 29-1 on the year, his only loss this year was to Tanner Borneman of Arizona Lutheran, who Tudor said is a “top-ranked wrestler in the state.”
At Joseph City, Korben Uhler “only lost by one point and gave one heck of a match in the semi-finals,” Tudor said.
Casillas, who also missed mat time earlier in the year before being reinstated, is 21-1 this season. According to Tudor, Casillas, a senior, “is determined to be a state champ.”
“From the time he was a freshman, he’s placed third twice and second once,” Tudor said. “He wants to be a champ. He’s got what it takes. He’s just got to execute – and to do it.”
At Joseph City, Berrelez wrestled his “best tournament of the year,” Tudor said.
“He’s looking to place high in the state,” Tudor said. “He’s been getting better. Over the summer, he hired a personal trainer and lost a lot of weight.”
Last year, Berrelez wrestled at 160, sometimes 170 pounds. At 152 pounds, Tudor said his senior wrestler “is pretty solid.”
Keene Todacheene, at 106 pounds, and Enrique Garcia, at 160 pounds, finished in fourth place at Joseph City. Todacheene, a freshman, is 30-3 this year, while Garcia, a senior, is 20-10.
Finishing in fifth place were 145-pounder Daniel White and 285-pounder Jesus Curiel, as 195-pounder Brandon Ruiz finished in sixth place.
Next week will be a busy week for Camp Verde wrestling, with a four-way home meet scheduled for Jan. 18 against Mayer, Mingus Union, NCS, Bradshaw Mountain and NPA high schools.
Jan. 20-21, Camp Verde will be on the road to the Page Invitational.
Wednesday’s match begins at 4:30 p.m., Friday’s match begins at 11 a.m. and Saturday’s match begins at 9 a.m.
-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42 and on Facebook at @CampVerdeBugle