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Cienega wrestlers win school’s first state title

The Arizona Republic


For the Arizona Republic

Cienega High School’s goal was to “kick the door down” and capture the school’s first state championship in any sport.

On Saturday, the team did exactly that, and in impressive fashion.

Cienega dominated its competition in the Class 4A-I wrestling team tournament, crushing three opponents, including Phoenix Thunderbird, whom the Bobcats defeated by a 37-15 score in the state final.

“This was a special group, from the work ethic of the kids – some of whom have been here for four years – to the parents and the administration,” Cienega coach Marty Niblo said while his players hoisted the state championship plaque nearby.

“We’re pretty euphoric,” Niblo said.

Top-ranked Cienega came into the final knowing the matchup would turn on whether the Bobcats could repeat some of their performances at last week’s state individual tournament, where Cienega wrestlers defeated Thunderbird wrestlers head-to-head.

Cienega’s Jeff Comisso (125 pounds) and Joel Sowers (130) set the tone early by winning such rematches.

Andrew Roche (145) and Clark Kinne (189) then picked up important decisions in their matches.

Jordan Christenson sealed the championship for Cienega with a pin during the extra minute added after he and Thunderbird’s William Munda finished the regulation portion of the 285-pound match tied at four points apiece.

“We really didn’t have any weak spots,” Niblo said.

Cienega captured wins in all but three of the matchups in the state final, and was even more dominant in the state quarterfinals and semifinals, knocking off Cholla 58-15 and Prescott High 43-19.

After the final match, Cienega gathered in the center of the mat to celebrate the school’s first title, as the players and coaches exchanged handshakes and hugs and shed a few tears of happiness.

“From 103 (pound weight class) to 285, the team wrestled their hearts out,” Niblo said.

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