The Mountain View Lions came away from the 23rd-Annual Mountain View Dual Tournament, where a field of 15 other teams arrived to compete on Dec. 20 and 21.
“We’re hosting this tournament, and we want to make a good showing,” said Mountain View coach PJ Ponce.
It was clear before they even hit the mats that the Mountain Lion wrestlers were determined to not only make a good showing, but to win the entire tournament.
“We’re going to protect our trophy, protect our house. It’s our tournament,” said Mountain View junior Richie Estrada.
Estrada and team backed up their words on day one, finishing with a flawless 5-0 team record. After easing past Catalina and Rio Rico, the Mountain Lions were forced to dig deep to narrowly edge by Fountain Foothills with a score of 41-40.
Senior Ricky Alvarez, who upset Empire High School’s two-time state qualifier Dirk McOmber, helped keep his teammates vocal during the matches.
“I always tell my teammates to cheer for the person on the mat. Before each match, we huddle around our wrestler, put our hands on his head, and send him out to battle,” said Alvarez.
And battle they did. As one of only two teams to finish their bracket undefeated for the day, the Mountain Lions refused to slow down on day two. Mountain View needed wins over Show Low and Flowing Wells to advance to the team championship.
“Going into day two, we want to stay off our backs, keep them pinned, and finish it early,” said senior Tanner Waltz.
Waltz did exactly that in his match, outpacing his opponent to earn a pin a couple minutes in. In a similar fashion, John Reynolds took down his opponent in a crafty manner, sweeping his feet out from underneath him. One by one, the Mountain Lions chipped away at their competition, never showing doubt or lacking support for one another.
As the matches progressed, the sidelines grew more excited. After defeating Flowing Wells, Mountain View had proven they weren’t to be toyed with on their home turf. When it came to the final match, the Mountain Lions had to prove that point once more against a tough Cienega team.
“Going into the championship, we told them that we are wrestling in our home. We had to wrestle hard and everyone had to pull together as a family,” said Ponce.
The match proved to be the toughest yet for the Mountain Lions. But with much persistence on the mats and a rally of leadership from wrestlers like Bailey Janis, Mountain View had their eyes set on the trophy.
“Bailey continues to lead the team by example. His hard work in the room has helped him win two tournaments this year and run his record to 24-0,” said Ponce.
With a true group effort, and come-from-behind victories by Dallas Altamirano and Sam Garcia, the Mountain Lions defeated Cienega 44-30 to take down the title.
“Throughout the tournament, Coach Ponce kept talking about the first place trophy,” said sophomore Jake Wareham. “He would tell us, ‘this is for the school’. The coaches deserve a lot of credit. They raised money to help put together the best dual tournament in Southwest Tucson. They kept us fired up the whole way.”
Ponce couldn’t have been more thrilled with the results of his team’s hard work.
“The team wrestled extremely well. They rose to the occasion as the level of competition got tougher in the championship round,” said Ponce. “After we won, we told them how proud we are of them, and to look back and see how far we have come in just two months. We still have a lot of work ahead of us.”