Blake Monty won a state title for the Mountain View and the team took home a state title.
PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – There was a time in Bob Callison’s young life while growing up in Wisconsin that everything was so dysfunctional, he had to run away.
As a foster child, he’d feel so out of place at some of the houses. They clearly weren’t his home, and he had to get away.
During those runs and throughout his childhood Callison formed how he’d want his adult life to be with three pillars of a foundation: spirituality, family and a sense of home.
Welcome to the Mountain View (Mesa) wrestling room.
Yes, Callison has a great family life that most don’t see. But on Saturday those three pillars were clearly on display as his second family, the Toros, brought home the second state title in school history and first since 2000.
He can finally stop running.
“I’ve been a head coach in the East Valley for 17 years and you are constantly chasing and working,” said Callison, who started out at Mesquite (Gilbert). “This is very special. The program has always been successful, but I have also put my stamp on it, too.
“Those kids who are coming through here have been with me. I remember when they walked into our room as fifth-graders.”
They are all grown up now.
Coach Bob Callison shares a hug with state
champion Ryan Gallo.
Mountain View won the Division I title with 197 points behind two champions, three runner-ups and four other placers to best perennial champion Sunnyside (Tucson) easily, as the Blue Devils finished with 142.
The testament to what Mountain View accomplished comes from senior Ryan Gallo, who couldn’t make the lineup last year but finished sixth at state when the first-string wrestler got hurt just before sectionals. This year Gallo was on a mission and kept closing the gap on Corona del Sol (Tempe) state champion Glenn Farina, who he never beat until sectionals last week and then followed it up with another win, this time 4-3, to take the 138-pound title.
“He has taught us to never give up,” Gallo said. “He runs the room hard and we push each other. We have our fights but we settle them in the room. We are like a family no matter what happens.”
The Toros’ other champion was Blake Monty, who didn’t place last season after finishing fifth as a freshman. He has reached a new level because of disappointment, as he beat Richard Miranda of Westview (Avondale) 7-0 for the 145-pound title.
“It made me push myself to limits that I’ve never been to before,” Monty said. “This has been a lifelong dream and it finally came true.”
The other state finalists for the Toros were sophomore Paden Mason (113) and junior twins Weston (160) and Kieffer Taylor (170), who were Utah state placers before moving back to Arizona this year.
Afterward the whole program came down to the floor of the Tim’s Toyota Center to accept the trophy as one big family.
“I yearned for my mom and my dad,” Callison said, teary-eyed. “I saw a lot of dysfunction and God blessed me in a lot of different ways. It is something that I will never forget and it drives me to give our boys a place they can feel good about.”
* Cibola (Yuma) won the Division II team title behind individual champions Luis Nunez (132), Pierre Gaud (160) and Vicente Guerrero (170) for a total of 169 points. It’s the program’s second title with other coming in 1995. The Raiders outdistanced Cienega (Vail) and Marana (Tucson) at 100.5.
* The most anticipated match of the night came at 152 pounds in Division I, as two undefeated and former state champions finished their careers against each other. Dajour Reece of Chandler hit a five-point move in the final seconds to beat Michael Suwyn of Mountain Ridge (Glendale).
* Eight wrestlers won their second title as Sunnyside (Tucson) competitors Juaqin Olivas (120), William Olivas (126) and Gabriel Gonzalex (195), Corona del Sol’s Ethan Tursini (160) and Trey Ronayne of Basha (Chandler) got it done it D-I, while Nathan Mendivil (106) of Gila Ridge (Yuma), Jacob Swift (138) of Deer Valley (Glendale) and Kyle Jividen (HWT) of Sahuaro (Tucson) reached the top of the podium again in Division II.
* The match of the tournament came in the D-I semifinals as Jacob Reyes of Valley Vista (Surprise), a returning state champion, was trailing Alfredo Calzadillas of Ironwood Ridge (Tucson) 12-1 when he fought off his back and got a five-point move to close within 12-6. Reyes, who finished second at 120 pounds, eventually won 18-16.
* Sunnyside finished second in D-I. The Blue Devils have finished in the top three in all but one year since the AIA started recognizing wrestling as a sport in 1977.
Jason P. Skoda, a former Arizona Republic and current Ahwatukee Foothill News staff writer, is a 19-year sports writing veteran. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-272-2449.