Camp Verde High School’s wrestling team once again had a good showing at the Division IV Arizona Interscholastic Association State Championships with a third-place finish at the 2017 edition.
The Cowboys’ success was highlighted by individual state champion performances by junior Skyler Pike, freshman Korben Uhler, sophomore Tristian Stanfield and senior Hayden Uhler.
“I think most people would love to have this team,” Cowboys coach Tracy Tudor said. “They’re carrying on the Camp Verde tradition of championship wrestling.”
Eleven different Camp Verde wrestlers qualified for the tournament, held on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 9 and 10, at the Prescott Valley Event Center, out of 14 total weight classes.
After the preliminary round on Feb. 9, the wrestlers who were to compete for the top six spots moved on to the medal round on Feb. 10.
Pike, in the 113-pound weight class, was the first to wrestle in the medal round. With a 5-0 lead in the third, Pike’s opponent, Morenci Junior/Senior High School Junior Derek Waltrip, reversed him but Pike countered, pinning Waltrip with 22 seconds left.
It was Pike’s first high school state title, finishing with a 46-1 season record.
Next was freshman 126-pounder Korben Uhler. Against Yuma Catholic High School junior Austin Blomquist, he found himself down 4-2 after the first period.
At the end of the second Uhler went up 7-4, and with 29 seconds left pinned Blomquist. Uhler finished the season with a 43-1 record.
“I can tell my hard work paid off,” a breathless Uhler said. “The [biggest] thing that helped me is my team and God.”
Senior Ezekiel Casillas took third place in the 132-pound class after being upset in the semifinals. Casillas earned a second period pin against Benson High School junior Connor Luis.
Although disappointed with the result, Casillas was nothing short of appreciative for his coaches and teammates. Casillas ended the season with a 32-4 record and a 134-37 career record.
“First of all I want to give thanks to my coaches,” Casillas said. “To be honest I want to give thanks to Korben and Hayden Uhler, they helped me with my success. I think I had a part of their success, too.”
Camp Verde’s third state champion of the evening was senior Hayden Uhler , defeating St. Johns High School senior Trent Sherwood. The first period ended 0-0 and Uhler led 2-1 after the second, and he scored three more points in the later part of the third to take a 5-2 decision and be crowned state champion for the fourth time.
Uhler finished the season undefeated with a 44-0 record.
“Every time I go into a match my game plan is always pin him, get it over with, but, you know, there’s always going to be that selected few kids that are going to be full of heart, they’re just going to come at you, do whatever it takes,” Uhler said. “Even if that match was as close as it was, I think I deserve this, I’ve been working my butt off.”
Camp Verde sophomore Tristian Stanfield, a first-year varsity wrestler, was crowned champion in the 220-pound division, winning by the slimmest of margins.
The runner up from the Division IV Section 1 championships the week prior, Stanfield won the title in a 1-0 decision over Round Valley High School senior John Stokes. Stanfield ended the season with a 20-3 record.
In the final round matches of the evening, senior Jesus Curiel  lost a 9-0 decision to Fountain Hills High School senior Parker Kauffman to take fourth place. Curiel ended the season with a 15-6 record and his career as a three-time state qualifier, taking fifth place in 2016.
The other Cowboys to qualify for the tournament were senior Wes Phillips , junior Daniel White , senior Oscar Berrelez , senior first-year wrestler Enrique Garcia  and sophomore Brandon Ruiz .
In the team standings, the Cowboys started the evening in third place and never managed to catch up to runner-up St. Johns. They came as close as seven points.
To view more photos of the Cowboys in action at the 2017 AIA Division IV State Championships, visit journalaz.com.
Camp Verde State Wrestling Top 6 Individual Finishers
113-Pound Weight Class
Champion - Skyler Pike
126-Pound Weight Class
Champion - Korben Uhler
132-Pound Weight Class
Third Place - Ezekiel Casillas
138-Pound Weight Class
Champion - Hayden Uhler
220-Pound Weight Class
Champion - Tristian Stanfield
285-Pound Weight Class
4th Place - Jesus Curiel