Shane McGough wasn’t born wearing a singlet and headgear, and he didn’t spend countless childhood weekends at wrestling tournaments. He just looks like he did.
In wrestling circles, McGough, a senior at Desert Mountain, is a late bloomer. He picked up the sport in seventh grade, and that was because his dad knew another dad whose son was wrestling. The whole wrestling thing wasn’t even his idea to start with.
“A lot of kids had been doing it since they could walk,” said McGough of his introduction to the sport. “They had a wrestling background or their parents were big into wrestling. I was a little behind.
“But once you start liking a sport and you are really involved, you can catch up quick.”
McGough caught up quicker than anyone could imagine. Just a year after starting to wrestle, McGough made the finals at the state junior high meet. Then, as a freshman, he went 46-4 and lost in the 5A-II state finals at 112 pounds.
Since that loss in 2007, McGough has lost just two times (both to Mesa’s Victor Montano). This year, McGough capped his career with a 43-0 record and his third straight state title. For his efforts, McGough has been named the Tribune’s wrestler of the year.
“It did go by pretty quick,” McGough said of his stellar career. “It was fun and everything worked out. But it’s weird looking back and knowing it’s over and there’s nothing left at Desert Mountain. It’s kind of emotional.”
Emotional is something that McGough is not on the mat. Before his matches, McGough is a picture of calm, focused on the next six minutes.
“Once I’m on the mat and get my shoes on, I’m only focused on wrestling,” McGough said. “I try to focus more on the match.”
In the state finals this year, McGough was calm and focused as he spent the first 30 seconds stalking Tucson Sunnyside’s Raul Moraga. Once he got ahold of Moraga, it didn’t take long for McGough to pin him, winning in 1 minute, 8 seconds. In all of his matches in the state tournament, McGough won by pin, never getting to the third period.
McGough’s focus has led him to a career mark of 171-6 and a scholarship to Arizona State. McGough also raised the bar at Desert Mountain, leading the Wolves to the fourth seed at the 5A-II state team tournament, the highest Desert Mountain has ever been seeded.
“It’s never been this good,” McGough said of Desert Mountain wrestling. “Even though I’m going to ASU, my parents live two minutes from Desert Mountain, and I’m always going up there to help them out.
“It was big for me to win it and big for the team to have that huge step. Hopefully, this is just the start.”
ALL-TRIBUNE WRESTLING TEAM
103 -- Dalton Brady Fr. Chandler Went 39-1, has shot at being a 4-time state champ
112 -- Robbie Mathers So. Desert Vista State champion, 31-2
119 -- Daniel Mendoza Sr. Westwood Won back-to-back state championships
125 -- Shane McGough Sr. Desert Mountain ASU-bound after dominant run of 3 state titles
130 -- Tadeo Ruelas Sr. Brophy Roared through state tournament bracket for title
135 -- Paul Looper Sr. Brophy Just 2 losses this year, 1 came in state finals
140 -- Mike Hamel Sr. Mesquite 38-0, second state title, 2nd undefeated season
145 -- Kolton Lock Jr. Queen Creek Rolled through weight class undefeated this season
152 -- Ryan Miller Sr. Corona del Sol 43-2, won 2nd state title for Aztecs
160 -- Blake Ortiz Sr. Corona del Sol Had breakthrough season, 44-1 and state title
171 -- Derek Felton Sr. Corona del Sol Won 191 matches in stellar career
189 -- Sam Fulton Sr. Corona del Sol Another Aztec to rise to top, was 41-5, state champ
215 -- Jake Smith Sr. Basha 27-4, won epic match in 5A-I final, was tourney’s outstanding wrestler
Hwt -- Tevin Hood Sr. Hamilton Late to start but finished with flourish and state title
103 -- Nate Covarrubias Jr. Desert Ridge Went 42-2, runner-up in 5A-I
112 -- Andrew Patino Jr. Coronado 47-0, finally won in third trip to 4A-II final
119 -- James Arthur Sr. McClintock Was runner-up in 4A-I, went 32-5
125 -- Chad Done Sr. Highland Finished career as state runner-up, was champ at 119 as junior
130 -- Brandon McElveen Sr. Mesquite 34-3, state runner-up
135 -- Ryan Campbell Jr. Dobson 43-4, lost nail-biter to 5A-I champ in semis
140 -- Airam Moreno Jr. Queen Creek 42-3, made state title match
145 -- Edgar Verdi Jr. Mesa Jackrabbits’ lone state champion
152 -- Emannuel Del Castillo Sr. Higley Lost just once while wrestling at 152, was 3rd in 4A-II
160 -- Heath Boers Sr. Williams Field Hard-luck runner-up in 4A-II, was 41-2
171 -- Trace Bowman Sr. Queen Creek Champ was dominant in state tournament, went 33-2
189 -- Wes Moore Sr. Queen Creek Lost just one match on way to 4A-I title
215 -- Brandon Dudley Sr. Apache Junction Capped career with state championship
Hwt -- Tyeler Davison Sr. Desert Mountain Lost just once on way to 5A-II title
Wrestler of the year: Shane McGough, Desert Mountain
Coach of the year: Tod Workman, Queen Creek. The Bulldogs moved up to 4A-I this year and enjoyed their best season. They were the best team in the individual tournament and finished runner-up in the team tournament.
• The McClintock Invitational came down to the last match, as Chandler and Red Mountain were separated by just 1.5 points. Red Mountain’s Garrhett Kidd had Chandler’s Williams Poehls inches from being pinned in the first period. However, Poehls held on and then dominated the rest of the way, winning 13-9 and giving the Wolves the tournament title.
• Mother Nature put on a dominating performance in early January, wiping out the Payson Invitational and the Page Invitational, tournaments that were to include several East Valley schools. Four schools that were going to Payson threw together their own four-team meet at Chandler High School, as Chandler, Highland, Mountain View and Glendale Mountain Ridge made some lemonade out of the lemons the weather had given them.
• Queen Creek had a tremendous late-season tournament run. The Bulldogs dominated the 4A-I Desert Sky Region and then were the top-scoring team at the 4A-I individual state tournament. However, the Bulldogs did not get their first official state wrestling tournament title, as they fell to Phoenix Moon Valley in the finals of the state team tournament.