Miners well represented at state wrestling championship

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Colten Smith stands on the podium at the runner-up position. Submitted

San Manuel Miner

The San Manuel Miners had nine wrestlers compete at Division IV State Wrestling Championships last weekend at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona. As a team, the Miners finished 18th in the final team results. Colten Smith and Frankie Tamayo earned individual medals.

“This team was faced with every challenge and distraction you could imagine,” Miners’ coach Daniel Najera said. “They persevered through everything, stayed focused and accomplished their goals.”

Frankie Tamayo, a senior, reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual state champion Hayden Uhler of Camp Verde. Tamayo won three straight matches in the consolation bracket to finish with a third place medal.

“Tamayo wrestled an amazing tournament,” Najera said.

Colten Smith, the odds on favorite to win the state championship in his weight class, cruised to the finals to take on Clay Sierra of Yuma Catholic. It was a rematch of last year’s third-place match at the State Championship, which Smith won. In this year’s championship match, Smith was leading 6 – 0 midway through the second period before suffering a dislocated elbow. Due to the severity of the injury, Smith was unable to continue which allowed Sierra to claim the State Championship by injury default.

“It was heartbreaking watching Colten not being able to finish his match,” Najera said after Smith’s injury. “But we try to take the good out of everything. We are very proud of him. He did his best.”

Cisco Medina was one win away from being the third Miners’ wrestler to medal. Coach Najera said he was proud of his team and their performance throughout the season.

“They are a great group of young men who will do great things in life,” Najera said. “It was a great season.”

Najera and Miners coaching staff were certain to say ‘Thank you’ to everyone who supported the Miners’ wrestling program this season.

In addition to Smith, Tamayo and Medina, the Miners’ wrestlers who qualified for the State Championship were: Jacob Christian, Miguel Gonzalez, Ricky Najera, Carlos Salas, Marco Salas and Colby Stratton.

Andy Luberda (200 Posts)

Andy Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working15 years in Healthcare Financial Management. Andy covers sports for eight high schools. His stories are published in the Southeast Valley Ledger, Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles. In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College. Andy is currently earning a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Communication. Andy is scheduled to complete his degree December 2014. He was born and raised in Des Plaines, Ill. In 1992, he relocated to Arizona. After a short return to Des Plaines in 1997, he returned to the Phoenix area two years later. He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.


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