T-birds set for Don Salyer Invitational: Spring Valley, Ironwood favored to earn title at annual Mohave tourney

January 12, 2018 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — The reigning champion Ironwood Eagles have returned and the 2015 champion Spring Valley Eagles also are back to reclaim their prize at Mohave High School at high noon today.

They will be among 16 high schools vying for the wrestling title at the 14th annual Don Salyer Invitational today and Saturday.

The Ironwood Eagles were not bashful as first-time guests at the 13th annual Dan Salyer Mohave Wrestling Invitational last season.

Head coach Sean Flanigan and his Eagles made the trip from Glendale, Ariz., to Bullhead City where they topped 15 other high schools to take home the first-place trophy.

“It’s nice to come up here and have some success,” said Flanigan, moments after embracing the first-place trophy last season. “We had a lot of fun, we enjoyed the community, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”

The Eagles amassed 603.00 points, which was enough to dethrone the defending champion, second-place Las Vegas Spring Valley Grizzlies, who tallied 587.00 Ironwood led Spring Valley by a mere four points going into the finals.

“Ironwood has a nice team,” Grizzlies head coach Fred Meyer said moments after last season’s invite ended. “They have a nice little operation.”

Flanigan said his team is 32-5 this season.

He said his Eagles placed fourth out of 24 at the Veterans Memorial Invitational, sixth out of 24 at the Eagle Invitational and 12th out of 38 at the Peoria Invitational this season.

Flanigan said: “Another interesting factoid, the head coach Sean Flanigan, yes me, just got his 400th win making him the 12th most winning coach in Arizona history.”

He added: “We are relatively solid top to bottom this season if I have all my starters.”

The 2016 Mohave invite champion Grizzlies amassed 519.0o points to outscore the second-place Phoenix Moon Valley Rockets’ 473.0 during the invite in 2016. The Rockets will be back this weekend, too.

“Ironwood, if they are there again, and Foothill,” said Meyer when asked what teams he expects to contend for the Mohave invite title. “We expect to do well, also.”

Meyer said his Grizzlies are 21-4.

His Grizzlies just took first place at the Wolves Rumble — a 16-team tournament on Jan. 4.

Ryan Mitchell, 106 pounds, and Andres Garcia, 138, are having the best

seasons so far, Meyer said. Both of them placed first at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic — a 50-team tournament with schools from as far away as Pennsylvania participating.

Mitchell is 35-0 and Garcia is 30-4

Michael Canada is 30-1.

Meyer said his other standouts this season are Daniel Hristov, 132, Brisean Cunningham at 145, and Bryan Lovett at 113.

Great contributions also have been made by T.Z. Yehudah at 220, Porter Abbott at 195, and Jeremy Pakulak at 182, the Grizzlies’ head coach added.

“Wyatt English is a senior this year with a current career record of 160-12 and a season record of 24-0,” Ryan English said. “He was the 2017 Nevada state champ.

“He has multiple colleges looking at him. He has not decided where he will wrestle.

“We are focusing on another state title for this season and then we will decide on a program.”

Wyatt English, who grappled at 139 last year, earned the Most Outstanding Wrestler award out of all the competitors in the midde weight classs at the Mohave invite last season.

Robert Silva, 106, Kohl Velado, 132, 138 Micah Schneider, 138, and Wyatt English, 145, are the Falcons’ better grapplers, Coach English said.

“Spring Valley is always tough,” said Coach English about the contenders that will be competing this weekend. “Ironwood usually is pretty tough; Moon Valley is another tough program.”

Kory Burgess’ T-birds placed seventh at the Mohave invite last season.

“We will see some tough competition this weekend coming out of Phoenix and Las Vegas,” Burgess said. “Ironwood and Spring Valley continue to be tough teams that we will get the opportunity to compete with.”

Mohave went 3-0 during its meet at Wickenburg High School on Wednesday. The T-birds beat Buckeye Union 48-33, Estrella Foothills 60-17 and Sierra Linda 43-30.

The T-birds’ most improved wrestlers so far this season are Michael Ramos, 120, with a record of 31-10 and Owen Morin, 160, at 29-10, Burgess said. Mohave expects great performances from Ramos, Dylan Tahbo, 126, Morin, Deven Lobato, 182, and Jakeb Cook, 220.

Burgess added: “Each of them should place high in medal standings.”

Damon Puryear, 106, Trevor Salahub, 113, Torin Rocha, 132, Isaac Perez, 138, Jazmine Lobato, 145, Nick Swick, 152, Nico Rivas, 170, Steven Matthews, 195, and Oliver Liles, 285, are “all having winnings seasons and making great contributions to the team,” Burgess said.

River Valley Dust Devils head coach Phil Regan said Seth Solano, 160, is wrestling well.

Solano placed sixth at the Joseph City Invitational on Saturday and he went 3-1 at Wickenburg on Wednesday, Regan said.

“(He) seems to be peaking at the right time and has a good chance to place in top four at Mohave,” said Regan about Solano.

Ray Hernandez, 195, beat Mohave’s 195-pounder at Joseph City to finish in fifth place last weekend, said Regan, who is in his first full season at the helm at River Valley. Hernandez also went 3-1 at Wickenburg.

“He is a first-year wrestler (who) has placed at Camp Verde and Joe City” Regan said. “(He) should make his way to the podium.”

The Dust Devils head coach is looking forward to River Valley’s Tristan Carter, 128, meeting Mohave’s 128-pounder (Tahbo is listed at 126 by Mohave) at the Mohave invite.

“The Mohave 128 is tough and made the final at Joe City,” Regan said. “They didn’t meet becasue Carter wrestled at 132 last week.

“(It) could be an interesting matchup.”

Regan added: “Carter has an opportunity to make the podium if he wrestles smart.”

Laughlin, Trevor G. Browne, Kingman, Lake Havasu, Parker, Lee Williams, West Wendover (Nev.), White Pine (Nev.), Chaparral (Nev.), Las Vegas also will be among those in the field competing at the invite this weekend.