Maricopa High School freshman Sky Murcek placed sixth in his weight class at the Division III State Wrestling Championships.
Murcek earned his medal by winning three of his six matches at 103 pounds in the tournament that was held Friday and Saturday at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott.
After losing a 10-0 major decision in his opening-round match against Marcus Salnicky of Tucson Amphitheater, Murcek beat Paladin Scott of Cottonwood Mingus by a 5-3 decision. In his third bout, Murcek rallied to pin Cris Esparza of Peoria Liberty.
Murcek then took a 2-0 decision over Donnie Borrego of Lakeside Blue Ridge before falling in his final two matches against Tempe’s Daniel Navarro (by an 8-3 decision) and Amphitheater’s Salnicky (by a score of 8-0 in the match to determine fifth and sixth place).
Maricopa coach Conroy Bowman said the key for Murcek was his come-from-behind victory over Esparza.
“Sky was behind like 10-2,” Bowman said. “He happened to pull kind of a desperation move, knowing he had to do something different. He did a roll when he was on bottom and he happened to catch the kid in a reverse half. He held him as long as he could to get the pin.”
Murcek, who finished the season with a 33-14 record, was one of six Maricopa wrestlers to qualify for the state tournament. Also competing at state for the Rams were junior Adolfo Franco and seniors Shakeil Becker, Louis Ochoa, Joey Kelly and Sean Dodge.
“I think they appreciated the opportunity to represent themselves and the school,” Bowman said. “I think they were rather impressed by the amount of competition that they had.”
Franco (140 pounds) lost his first-round match by pin against Tim Hart of Safford. Franco, who finished the season with a 30-19 record, then scored a 15-4 major decision over Tyler Collins of Liberty before falling by pin against eventual fourth-place finisher Anthony Chavez of Amphitheater.
Becker (145 pounds) lost in the first round by an 11-2 major decision against eventual fourth-place finisher Jawuan Pugh of Phoenix Thunderbird. Becker (32-15) edged R.J. Hughes of Fountain Hills, 3-2, before falling by a 7-6 decision to Brad Brevik of Lakeside Blue Ridge.
Ochoa (152 pounds) lost a 14-6 major decision in the first round against eventual third-place finisher Bradley Cutliffe of Thunderbird. Ochoa finished the season with a 5-5 record after falling 9-7 to Jakob Lund of Chino Valley.
Kelly (171 pounds) began the tournament by pinning Dion Bailey of Kayenta Monument Valley. In the second round, Kelly (32-14) lost a 10-1 major decision against eventual state champion Felipe Mabante of Rio Rico. Kelly’s third match was a 4-3 loss against Taylor Rayburn of Scottsdale Saguaro.
Dodge (215 pounds, 32-17 record) lost by pin against eventual fourth-place finisher Hunter King of Buckeye and then was defeated by Ryan Ortega of Goodyear Desert Edge.
The Rams finished tied with Gilbert Campo Verde and Fort Defiance Window Rock for 32nd in the team standings with 15 points. A total of 48 schools were represented in the Division III field.
Thunderbird finished as the Division III team champion, edging second-place Mingus by a single point at 158.5 to 157.5. Rio Rico finished third with 127 points, while Safford was fourth with 103.5 points.