Division 3, Section 1.
1. Safford. Don’t call it a comeback? The boys in blue came out of their rut and captured their 8th state championship under coach Herman Andrews. Led by national Greco-Roman champion Dawon Andrews, the Bulldogs future looks so bright you need to wear shades.
2. Amphitheater. Always a tough team and led by one of the best coaches in Arizona, Sam Portillo. Still the Panthers graduated a lot of talent and will challenge, but ultimately won’t be able to top this section.
3. Pueblo. New coach, new direction, new attitude. The Warriors look primed to return to the glory years when they won a team state championship with coach Steve Lopez. Coach Paul Vasquez is a product of that championship team.
4. Walden Grove. The Red Wolves have come a long way in a short period of time, finishing in the top 10 at state last year, ahead of perennial power Coconino. Can they crack into the top 3 here?
5. Canyon Del Oro. Have been one of the more consistent teams in Tucson, but have had a few down years. Dropping from Division 2 to Division 3 may help the Dorados get back on track.
6. Empire. Finished tied with Salpointe at state last year, so only fitting to rank them side by side. Produced an All Arizona selection a few years ago, so the coaching staff is capable of developing talent.
7. Salpointe Catholic. The Lancers used to be one of the top programs in Southern Arizona, but have fallen on hard times. Still they have decent depth and put on a great late season tournament.
8. Sahuarita. Not the only game in town anymore with the opening of Walden Grove. Have consistently produced state placers, but not being the only school in town has cut into their talent pool.
9. Sabino. The Sabercats have all of the things they need to be a successful program, hopefully they can find consistency which has eluded them for the past few years.
10. Palo Verde. Have not had mush success on the mat recently. Hopefully they can make some strides and improve this season.
11. Catalina. Have had some talented individual athletes come up through their program, but have not had much success individuall or as a team in recent years. Their wrestlers compete tough though.
12. Rio Rico. The Hawks are no longer flying high. In search of a coach and reeling from one of the lowest finishes at state in a while. Who will right the ship? Talent may be short but desire and heart never are.
13. Douglas. The Bulldogs lack depth or individual talent. They can only improve and this section outside of the top 3 is wide open, but I don’t see the Bulldogs climbing that far that fast. Finished tied for last at state last year in Division 3.