Those who have been following Sand Devils wrestling this season were surprised to see Zachery Ruiz, Kimball Begay, and Cheyenne Richardson crowned section champions last weekend.
The 3A state championship will take place Thursday and Friday in Prescott Valley, Arizona.
Ruiz, wrestling at the 113-pound bracket, will be seeded No. 1, Begay (195) will be seeded No. 2, and Richardson (285) will be seeded No. 4.
But those three weren’t the only Sand Devils wrestlers to have great performances at last week’s sectional tournament.
Hunter Richardson (132) placed third, Carson Stansfield (138) placed second, Hayden Gracia (152) placed second, Ethan Tate (170) placed second, Denver Sheen (182) placed second, and Ted Parkett (220) placed second. These wrestlers will compete at this weekend’s state championship tournament.
The return of Hayden Gracia on one hand is a surprise to some, and not on the other. Gracia, who was crowned state champion last year, didn’t wrestle much this season after dislocating one of his ribs during his first match of the season.
Head wrestling coach Kyran Keisling said his favorite moment from last weekend’s sectional tournament was Denver Sheen qualifying for state. Sheen is a junior, a first-time wrestler.
“It came out of nowhere,” said Keisling. “Sheen is a total Cinderella story.”
Keisling was very happy to see Sheen’s success at the end of the season.
“He was a JV guy at the beginning of the season, but he started filling in for our varsity wrestlers and last weekend he just put it all together,” the coach added.
Keisling says he’s very optimistic of the team’s chances at state this week and he’s expecting to see some great performances.
“These guys have been tested in really tough multis and tournaments,” Keisling added. “We’ve tried to keep the competition level really high during the season. Every one of them should believe they can compete on this level.”