It's been 30 years since Kingman High had a wrestler win a state championship, but with five wrestlers qualifying for the Division II State tournament this year, coach Brandon Clor is hopeful the drought will end.
"I'm excited." Clor said. "I'm disappointed that we didn't have more. I felt like Jared Brown, C.J Gore and Josh Estensen did a really good job. They were one match away but ran into some hard times."
At the beginning of the season, Clor had hoped to qualify anywhere between five and seven wrestlers for the state tournament that begins today at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. The finals are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday.
"I really want a state championship," Clor said. "It's been a long time since somebody won a state championship. I would like to put another name on the board."
The Bulldogs will be led by Andrew Leyva at 170 pounds. He is making his third trip to the state tournament, and Clor feels he has a good shot.
"He's been battling people all year and if he makes no mistakes, I have no doubt he can make the finals," Clor said.
Leyva enters the state tournament with a 39-8 record and has the most career wins at KHS.
Other qualifiers for the Bulldogs include Dalton Delong (126) who enters with a 24-9 record; Cody Ricker (195) at 30-15; and Richie Williams (220) at 36-6.
Tim Georges qualified at 285 pounds after recently moving up from the junior varsity squad when a varsity spot opened up.
"I didn't think it was going to happen," the sophomore Georges said. "It's little bit of a shock. I expected to win a little bit, but not as much as I have."
Georges will enter the tournament with a 6-5 record. He was seeded eighth at last week's sectional meet but wrestled his way up to a fourth-place finish.
"It gets him a lot of experience for being a younger guy," Clor said. "Half of going to state is being ready."
Being ready is something that junior varsity coach Jim Skommesa taught his wrestlers all year, because, as in the case of Georges, you never know when your number will be called.
The Bulldogs finished the regular season 25-11. The 25 wins is the most wins by the Bulldogs in a season and the five wrestlers qualifying is the most KHS has taken to state.
However, despite the noticeable successes by KHS this year, the team has also had some unseen successes that could help sustain a lasting legacy for years to come. For starters, the Bulldogs had all 14 weight classes represented at the sectional meet.
"I think the large part of our success is maintaining the depth," Clor said. "We still have a lot of young guys. I wouldn't say reloading. We still have to rebuild.
"We are not at the point where a guy graduates and another guy steps in and is going to be 30-3. We have some work to do before we are there, but we are getting closer every year."
KHS will lose four seniors in Leyva, Estensen, Bodhi Mayo and Trent Meins.
"They are going to be four guys that we are going to miss dearly and they're going to have some big shoes to fill," Clor said. "However, I think we can nurture and grow some of those younger guys to fill those spots."