KINGMAN - Lee Williams High wrestler Nick Verville finished third in the AIA State Wrestling Championships in the 126-pound class in Division III.
The performance gave him the best finish among four wrestlers from the Kingman area to compete.
Verville finished the season with a 45-4 record, according to the AIA. LWHS has his record at 50-4, which includes forfeits. He lost to Theron Johns of Holbrook in the semifinals, and admitted Johns was the better wrestler.
"He's a good wrestler," Verville said. "He wrenched on me the whole time."
Verville leaves the 2014-15 season very satisfied, knowing three of this four losses came to a state champion and two state runner-ups. He's already eyeing his junior season.
"I'm already working on my game plan," he said. "I plan on coming back (to state) undefeated and pinning my way to a state title."
He expects to begin next season at around 130 pounds and make his decision in the early weeks whether to return to 126 or move up to 132.
Teammate Zachary Sanchez lost to Elias Gonzales of Tempe High in the 113-pound class and finished sixth. He went 3-3 in the tournament and 29-5 on the season. He took fifth last year in the Wyoming state tournament and likes the fact he improved this year.
"I didn't lose nearly as much as I did last year," he said. "I feel I improved a lot."
Sanchez will be a junior next year and expects to move up to 120. He hopes to see those who beat him again.
"I'd like to show them I can beat them," Sanchez said. "I'm sure they know it, too."
The two wrestlers earned enough points to place 19th out of 46 Division III teams. Thunderbird High in Phoenix dominated the Division III championships with 170 points.
Kingman High's Jose Moreno, 145 pounds, lost to Moon Valley wrestler Tyler Werch and was eliminated by Daniel Rodriguez of Apollo High.
Gao Sheng, 285 pounds, defeated Fabian Mata in the Division II championships, but lost to eventual champion Darrin Kauer of Cave Creek in overtime. Sheng, a senior, got what he wanted out of the state tournament with his fourth-place finish.
"I accomplished my goal," Sheng said. "I wanted to wrestle my best and I placed at state."
He finished third in school history with 44 wins in a season, two behind Andrew Leyva's 46. In coach Brandon Clor's eight seasons, Sheng is the first heavyweight to place in the state tournament.
"He's one of the two best upper-body throwers I've coached," Clor said. "He's strong as an ox and is coachable. He was our team captain, our heart and his absence next year will be one of the hardest to recover from."
The two wrestlers combined for 18 points, good enough for a three-way tie for 32nd out of 48 teams.
Yuma's Cibola High won the Division II Championship with 142 points, edging runner-up Liberty High - Peoria, which finished with 130 points.
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