Want a wrestling rivalry? Sunnyside and Ironwood Ridge fits the bill.
The two powerhouses met up Wednesday night at Sunnyside and the Nighthawks came away with a 34-22 win.
Ironwood Ridge and Sunnyside have combined for five of the last ten Division I and II state wrestling championships. In other words, the two have simply been the most dominate big-school programs from Southern Arizona over the last five years.
The Blue Devils have won 30 state championships since 1979. Their remarkable run also includes seven second place finishes including the last two (although last year’s trophy has been removed due to a self-reported violation) while the Nighthawks emerged as a power in 2009.
Ironwood Ridge finished in second place in 2009 and 2010 (to Sunnyside) before ripping off three straight titles. The program also finished in third place behind Sunnyside last year.
Both programs can also lay claim to one of the best wrestlers in the nation with Roman Bravo-Young competing for Sunnyside and Danny Vega for Ironwood Ridge but the crowd at Sunnyside had to wait to see those two compete in their respective divisions while Ironwood Ridge built an early lead.
Kyle Taylor (145 pounds), Marco Dominguez (152) and Ben Lind (160) paced the Nighthawks to 18 quick points thanks to three straight pins but Sunnyside slowly got back in the match and tied things up 21-21 after Orlando Sotelo (195) won by default and Anthony Deatherage (220) came up with a pin of his own.
Vega (113) put Ironwood Ridge back up for good on the strength of an 18-9 decision but Bravo-Young (120) came right back and closed the gap to 25-24 thanks to his 10-4 decision.
The Nighthawks won the last three bouts for the win.
“It’s tough to fight back after losing the first three like that,” Bravo-Young explained. “But I know we will be ready for state.
“Personally, I’m feeling good and just need to work on a few things and get in shape for the season. We’re headed to the Campo Verde Duels this weekend.”
Campo Verde will be hosting Bradshaw Mountain, Sunnyside, Kofa, Benson, Verrado, Tuba City, Payson, Sunnyslope, River Valley, Mountain Pointe, Antelope Union and Chandler Prep this coming Friday and Saturday.
Vega recently signed with Grand Canyon and he saw the win as an early statement.
“We worked hard to prove a point,” Vega said. “Hopefully this will lead to more big things but it will be difficult with a target in our backs.