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Some Arizona wrestlers hit it big in Reno Tournament of ChampionsDec 20, 2012 If the level of wrestling in Arizona was measured on a wall like a child in a family home, it would clearly show a huge growth spurt in recent years.
There was time not long ago when wrestling in the Grand Canyon State was in bad shape. Dual meets were seemingly over in record time because of the forfeits and mismatches that saw the top wrestlers getting quick pins because of the huge drop-off between the elite individuals and the second tier.
Now many programs at all levels are fielding full lineups, even junior varsity squads, and just as important, the state is competing well at national tournaments to show just how far the state has come in recent years.
"Wrestling techniques have become a lot more advanced," Moon Valley (Phoenix) coach Bryan Smith said. "It's to the point where strength and quickness (isn't enough anymore), being negated by better technique."
At last week's Reno Tournament of Champions, considered the toughest tournament in the west, Arizona had three teams perform well. Canon-McMillian of Pennsylvania won it in a close battle with Poway of California.
Mountain View (Mesa) finished 13th, as every wrestler scored points and senior Seth Monty, who is ranked nationally by Amateur Wrestling News, finished third at 152. Senior Grant Huber was one win from placing while four others were a couple of wins away from finding the podium at one of the nation's toughest tournaments.
"I got a few calls from (Arizona coaches) when we got back saying great job representing Arizona," Mountain View coach Bob Callison said. "It was good for our boys to go toe-to-toe with some of the nation's best wrestlers.
"It was a long, tough weekend but they'll be better off in the end."
Hayden Moore of Queen Creek finished fifth at 170 as the Bulldogs finished 40th, while Ironwood Ridge (Tucson) had two wrestlers finish one win away from placing in Tate Sandifer (138) and Tristin Moredcai (182) to help the defending Division II state champs to a 20th place finish.
Monty, who is committed to Arizona State, was the big winner in finishing third at Reno.
"Nothing he does anymore surprises me," Callison said.
Jason P. Skoda, a former Arizona Republic and current Ahwatukee Foothills News staff writer, is an 18-year sports writing veteran. Contact him at email@example.com or 480-272-2449.