Tempe Corona del Sol advanced 10 of its wrestlers to the championship quarterfinals, but Mesa High holds a slight lead after the first day of the 5A Division I state tournament at Mesa.
Four of the 10 wrestlers Corona advanced are No. 1 seeds: Ryan Miller (145 pounds), Derek Felton (160), Luke Macchiaroli (215) and Mike Howard (heavyweight). Mesa, Phoenix Brophy and Gilbert Mesquite each advanced eight to the quarterfinals, which begin Friday at 11:30 a.m. at Jobing.com Arena.
Heading into Friday's action, Mesa is first with 61 1/2 points, followed by Corona del Sol (60 1/2), Brophy (56 1/2); Gilbert Highland (54 1/2) and Mesquite (54).
All of last year's local champions remain in the hunt to repeat: Macchiaroli, Mesa's Victor Montano, Phoenix Desert Vista's Colton Kiernan, Gilbert Highland's Blake Mabry.
In the 5A-II meet's first round at Glendale Deer Valley, Mesa Desert Ridge and Mesa Skyline advanced six and five wrestlers, respectively, to the quarterfinals. Tucson Sunnyside advanced the most, with 12 of its 14 wrestlers headed moving on.
Bad seed: Chandler 103-pound wrestler Max Mejia has been ranked No. 1 virtually all season by the Inside Trip newsletter. But since Mejia wrestled less than 10 matches due to a back injury, he was not eligible to be seeded in the state bracket. Mejia drew No.2 seed Tanner Reidhead of Mesa Mountain View, but Reidhead did not make weight, so No. 3 seed Dante Patrick of Scottsdale Desert Mountain become No. 2 and wrestled Mejia in the first round. Mejia won by major decision, 15-3. He also won his second match by pin to advance to the quarterfinals.
Feeling the heat: There is already enough pressure on Gilbert Perry point guard Desmond Howard, who is starting as a freshman after a season-ending knee injury to Beau Renaud.
But since Renaud went down against Scottsdale Coronado on Jan. 20, Howard's production and the Pumas' success have gone hand-in-hand. Perry is 5-2 since Howard took over. He is averaging 5.8 points and 3.5 assists per game in the victories.
"He's really grown up in the past couple weeks." Perry coach Mark Nold said.