Maricopa’s Heritage Academy emerged victorious at the recent Canyon Athletic Association state wrestling tournament held at Canyon State Academy in Queen Creek. The Heroes captured the title in just their second year of competition.
The team edged Casa Grande’s Mission Heights Preparatory Academy and Harvest Prep of Yuma for the title. Coach David Hettinger also was voted CAA varsity Wrestling Coach of the Year.
Heritage had three individual state champions on the boys’ side: Corbin Infiesto at 106 pounds, Christian Mylek at 144 and Caleb Weyrauch at 157. In addition, Jasmine Romero brought home the tile in the girls’ 235-pound division.
The individual state champions did not do it alone. The Heroes garnered points in 11 of the 13 boys’ weight classes. Jaxson Howell (113), Christian Fonner (120), Kaden Dodson (150), and Lee Kondravy (285) all advanced to the finals, while Elijah Scott at 132 and Bryson Patenge at 165, finished third. Tony Limon and Dane Adams each finished fourth, at 126 and 175 pounds, respectively.
Infiesto is a freshman who came into the Heritage program in his eighth-grade year and finished second in the junior high tournament last year. “He has some raw talent and natural ability that we would like to build off of for the next four years,” Hettinger said.
Mylek is a sophomore co-captain and is undefeated in his first two years at Heritage. He is a leader on the squad, according to Hettinger.
“He is a gifted athlete and a natural leader,” Hettinger said. “His skill and athleticism made him untouchable this year, and we look forward to what he does in the next two years. He is a role model for both our junior high and high school wrestlers.”
Weyrauch is one of just three seniors on the team, and left basketball to wrestle full time this year.
“We are glad he did,” Hettinger said. “Caleb has a natural instinct for wrestling. He hadn’t touched the mat since he was in junior high, but he has a strategic mind, an innate ability to read his opponents and can dominate on the mat. We wish we could’ve had him on the team longer than we did but we were grateful to get him before he graduated.”
Romero, who was inspired to join the team after watching a home meet, came late to the program but caught up fast.
“Despite her coming late to the sport, Jasmine was able to quickly pick up the basics, competing in our last two tournaments against more experienced male wrestlers and was able to bring home the gold at the girls championship.”
The team’s success was due to a variety of factors, according to Hettinger.
“First and foremost, our wrestlers are dedicated, they pushed very hard to get this victory and were single-minded in the effort,” he said. “I believe we have developed a brotherhood among our wrestlers. Most of our team was young when we started and grew strong attachments of support last year, which continued into this season.”
He cited the example of senior Bryson Patenge, who was diagnosed with a benign tumor that had to be surgically removed following a concussion last year. Henninger said the team rallied around Patenge Bryson, with many of the team members rallying at his home upon his release from the hospital.
Henninger also lauded the assistant coaches’ efforts.
“Finally, our coaching staff and school admin played a huge role in our victory. Coach William Senne, who left near the end of the season to enlist in the USMC helped to get our program off the ground and acted as a sort of big brother to our team. Coach Justin Mylek, our strength and conditioning coach, made sure that our wrestlers were fit for competition. And Coach Matt Kondravy has brought a new level of experience and technique to our program that will prove to be a key to future success.
We started off our year with Craigslist mats wrestling in the courtyard of the school. We practiced in heat, in cold and even a little rain. By the end of the year, we had competition mats and hosted our own home tournaments and dual meets.
Heritage has a young team, but many of the top wrestlers from this year will be back and will be joined by a bumper crop of junior high wrestlers.
“I have high expectations for this team and for this program,” Hettinger said. “They are a great group of athletes and each of them has high character. I think after seeing what we were capable of and what an amazing sport this is, we have won over many in our school to the idea that wrestling is and should be a foundational sport for any school athletics program.”
Henninger said the team would not have had the success it did without assistant coaches William Senne, Matt Kondravy, and Justin Mylek, and the athletes’ parents. “Thank you to our amazing parents,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without all of you.”