KINGMAN - The ultimate dream of an individual state wrestling championship wasn't captured by grapplers from Kingman and Lee Williams, but the Bulldogs and Volunteers can hold their heads high.
Kingman went a combined 9-9 for 42 points finished tied for 14th with Pueblo. Lee Williams scored 23 points, all from Nic Verville's third place finish at 126 pounds. The Vols ended in 27th place and 5-3 after Kensington Penny had to forfeit twice after injuring his knee last week during practice.
Verville went 5-1 in the state tournament and 38-5 for the season.
Mason Wester (42-8) at 145 pounds finished fourth for Kingman. He started strong on Friday, going 2-0, and began Saturday in the semifinals but lost to Williams Field's Logan Lamoreaux by major decision, 14-5. Wester bounced back by beating Flowing Wells' Alejandro Sandoval, 11-6, but fell in the third place match to Nic Dalcerro 9-7 in the first sudden victory period.
Humbero Ayala (33-14) at 220 also finished in fourth place. He advanced to the semifinals but was pinned by Cesar Chavez's Damien Mendez in 1 minute, 51 seconds. Ayala then beat Combs' Isiah Jacobs with a pin in 2:08, but lost the battle for third place to Buckeye's Dustin Rivera, 8-2. Ayala had beaten Rivera earlier in the quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs' Conner Mahlmeister placed sixth at 195. He nearly pulled off the upset of the tournament when he led No. 1 seed Kyle Rodriguez 7-6 late in their quarterfinal match. In the final 15 seconds during a wild scramble on the edge of the match, Rodriguez earned an escape point and they went into sudden victory overtime. Rodriguez got a takedown and held off Mahlmeister. Rodriguez (51-0) remained unbeaten and won the state championship.
Mahlmeister finished the tournament 3-3 and the season 37-8.
Senior Christian Barrios (33-10) went two-and-out at 113 pounds for the Bulldogs on Friday. He lost to No. 8 seed Trevor Tucker of Greenway in the first round by decision, 12-5. Barrios was then pinned in the consolation round by Sierra Linda's Javier Avila in 1:54.
"We haven't had more than one placer since 2010," said KHS wrestling coach Brandon Clor. "So, getting three to place was fantastic. I am pretty certain as a team it is our best showing since the early 1980s."
Verville went 5-1 in the state tournament and 38-5 for Lee Williams this season. Verville's second round match on Friday was much anticipated. He faced off against No. 1 seed Kendall Foster of Chino Valley, who had beaten Verville three times this year. It was scoreless match for 5:40, but then Foster scored on two takedowns to Verville's escape in the last 20 seconds and prevailed, 4-1.
"You basically had a finals match in the second round," said LWHS wrestling coach Dan Ondrejka.
Foster went on to win the state championship, and Verville won four consecutive that culminated with his 11-1 major decision win over Show Low's Maxx McKrill for third place.