Camp Verde High School’s wrestling team is feeling confident entering the final stretch of the season.
There are just over two weeks until the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division IV, Section 1 tournament, and the Cowboys are hitting their stride at the right time.
“We weren’t expecting to finish this strong — we’re finishing really strong. Our guys are really peaking at the right time, looking good, everybody’s happy, and I like that,” Cowboys coach Tracy Tudor said.
The team celebrated senior night on Thursday, Jan. 18, in a three-way dual meet against Mayer High School, Division II Bradshaw Mountain High School and Northland Preparatory Academy. Seniors Michael Waage, Daniel White and Skyler Pike were honored along with three team managers.
“Honestly it was sad. It was kind of a love-hate relationship. I’m glad I’m going but at the same time I don’t really want to go. I just want to stay another year, keep grinding,” White said, adding that his top moment of the year was winning his weight division at the Joseph City Invitational.
As for what the group means to the program, Pike leaves as one of the team’s defending state champions and White is a two-time state qualifier. Overall they have been instrumental in their years.
“Great group of kids. The managers are some of the best, I’m really going to hate losing those managers, they’re really good,” Tudor said. “Our boys, we’re going to miss them. [They’re ] champions, and it’s always sad to lose those guys because they help you every year, but we’ve got some guys replacing them, some guys coming up that are very good.”
As a team, it won all three duals in a near clean sweep. Conditioning has been a big factor to its success during the year, and will continue to be in the final stretch.
“Staying in the best shape we can. I think that’s one of our strong points. We’re taking these guys in the third round,” Tudor said. “We’re beating better wrestlers than we are on a few instances some of those guys were better than us skill-wise, but we outlasted them and we were able to get pins out of it. Our conditioning, I think, is the best in the state.”
Then they traveled to the Last Chance Pre-Sectional Wrestling Tournament, held at Bourgade Catholic High School on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20 and 21.
Pike , sophomore Korben Uhler  and junior Anthony Tinghitella  won their respective weight divisions as the top Cowboys finishers. Sophomores Keene Todacheene  and Benji Perez  took second place. Senior Daniel White  took third coming out of the consolation bracket. Freshman Conrad Brady  and junior Tristian Stanfield  each took third place.
The Division IV, Section I tournament is Feb. 3 at Youngker High School.
Tudor pointed out a handful of teams that will be fighting for this year’s state title, including St. Johns High School, Benson High School, Morenci Jr./Sr. High School and Arizona Lutheran Academy.
“We’re doing good. A lot of people are trying to count us out this year, but I think we’re stronger and better than ever, and we’ve got a huge chance at taking state this year,” White said.