PRESCOTT VALLEY - A few years back Alex Bambic wore braces.
The metal mouth syndrome is hard to hide especially on a wrestling mat. Wrestlers are not the most sympathetic and have been known to purposely rake the mouth of competitors who have braces much like a boxer going after an opponent's bloodied eye.
Bambic didn't forget or forgive.
A little of the payback for it came Friday night when the Desert Vista sophomore beat Corona del Sol's Simon Allen, 9-4, for the Division I 215-pound title at Tim's Toyota Center.
"He was mean as a kid," Bambic said. "He never let up. I wanted to stop him from winning state."
Bambic became the school's 12th state champion and pulled off a rare feat - a sophomore winning a state title in one of the two largest weight classes.
"I told to him to go after it and leave no doubt," Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez. "He wrestled a smart match, probably the best of his life. He wasn't going to be denied."
Allen (45-1) had his right kneecap come out of socket and pop back into place early in the first period to hinder his quickness and strength, but make no mistake Bambic (37-3) was setting the pace from the start although he couldn't finish most of this offensive attacks.
"I wanted to beat him and have a chance to be a three-time state champ," said Bambic, who is now 2-1 against Allen in two state meets.
Despite the injury, Allen led 3-0 after one. But Bambic owned the final two periods.
He got a four-point move in the second and then took advantage of a relatively new rule. Bambic was riding Allen, leading 4-3, when they went out of bounds. When Allen took injury time it allowed Bambic to choose down on the restart with eight seconds left.
Bambic got a reversal in that short period for a 6-3 lead after two. An escape and then the clinching takedown with 1 minute and 10 seconds left put the finishing touches on a rivalry that heated up at last year's state meet when they split matches with Allen finishing third.
"With about 30 seconds left I knew it was going to happen," he said. "I just had to finish him off. It's a great feeling."