The Peoria Invitational will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year and there will be plenty of reminiscing and recounting of all that has been seen and accomplished over the years.
One talking point will be the three four-time champions including, and the only Arizonan to do so, is Juaquin Olivas, who won his fourth on Saturday night.
“It means a lot to me to win this a fourth time,” Olivas said. “There have been 49 of these tournaments and only two other guys did it.”
It was just one of the highlights from the 49th edition of the event.
Here are five other things we learned from the three hours of wrestling Saturday night in Peoria.
1. Sunnyside still has it: Ok, Servite ran away with the team title, but the Blue Devils were impressive in the first time we’ve seen the Blue Devils this year.
Roman Bravo-Young (106) and Olivas (132) won titles, but the most impressive Blue Devil might have been David Salazar (113) who gave nationally-ranked Brandon Courtney of Desert Edge all he could handle before the latter pulled it out, 9-8, late in the title match.
2. Future four-timer: Deer Valley’s Jake Smith won his 108thstraight match with ease, puttingon a takedown clinic in the first period before getting a pin in the 152-pound title against Servite’s Angel Cordova.
In his career at Deer Valley (Swift transferred mid-season from Thunderbird is freshman year), he is 112-1 and don’t expect the junior have much trouble to close out his career. He looked physical, quick and determined.
“I am always trying to add something like a flying squiurrel,” he said of a wrestling move that went viral on YouTube. “You always have to evolve in wrestling. I always get hyped for finals and I came out ready to attack.”
3. Too many out-of-state teams: Not sure what changed – probably the emergence of the Steve Blackford Duals and Mile High Challenge in recent years – but the field at Peoria seemed too many out-of-state teams. It’s OK to have a few but out of the 28 finalists 10 were from Alamosa, Servite, Faith Lutheran and Windsor.
Just pure selfishness on our part, really, because it great these teams cross the border to compete in Arizona, but we want to see top Arizona wrestlers going at it and not someone we know little about.
4. Hand control is a lost art: Ages ago a fundamental of wrestling was the necessity of hand control when in on the bottom. There was no way to get out for an escape or reversal unless you got hand control off the whistle.
Rarely did you see someone go for the hands off the whistle during the finals or wrestling in general. It’s a by-product of the rule changes over the years. Today’s wrestlers are much more comfortable with going neutral at all times rather than running some combination of pinning combinations or riding their opponent out. So there isn’t as much of a need to work on moves from the bottom position because chances are they are going to get kicked out anyway.
Yes, I am a grumpy old man and I walked up hill to and from school. So what.
5. Lanky length: Desert Vista two-time state placer Alex Carrillo had a couple of inches on Moon Valley’s David Mendez, a Division II state runner up,and it came in handy on his takedown in the 120-pound finals. Carrillo, who won 4-2 over Mendez, has long arms and twice used his length to reach around a secure a takedown and later a reversal.
It’s just a God-given gift that some wrestlers can use to their advantage.
“I’ve always been lanky and I’ve learned how to use it for leverage and grabbing legs,” he said. “Stockier guys don’t have as long arms. I get a lot of my takedowns that way.”