APACHE JUNCTION — Last season Maricopa qualified four wrestlers for state with one state placer.
Of those state qualifiers, only one has returned in 106-pounder Gabriel Garcia, who entered the weekend at 20-4.
It’s a young team, coach Erick Fierro said, with only one senior participating at last weekend’s Prospector Invitational.
“It’s kind of exciting to see where the cards might fall when you get there because they are so young,” Fierro said. “At that age, anything can happen.”
Fierro expects to send five wrestlers to the Division II state meet next month in Prescott Valley.
He added his strong weight classes this year include Garcia at 106 along with Zach Kondravy, who placed at the Prospector Invitational at 152. Others expected to do well include heavyweight Hunter Taylor, Michael Peters at 145 and possibility Cody Long at 160.
“Sometimes he wrestles really well, and other times he wrestles like a sophomore,” Fierro said of Long. “A lot of kids have moved up and down (in weight classes). It’s a good problem to have, but it’s hard to figure out where your roster is going to be.”
The Rams will head to the Division II, Section III tournament Feb. 8 at Agua Fria High School in Avondale.
Fierro said despite being a young team, he’s pleased with where his numbers are and added that of the 13 eighth graders in the middle school ranks, 90% have wrestled, so he’s pleased at the direction the program is going.
“We are doing good things at the lower level to start making Maricopa wrestling develop,” Fierro said. “It’s not a sport that is not necessary popular in Maricopa, but we’re making it popular.”