Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Nathan Willey, right, tries to keep an advantage on classmate Beau Wagner during a recent practice session. Willey is one of four returning section champions for the Wildcats.
By Raymundo Frasquillo
MORENCI – Morenci opens its 2019 campaign, head coach Casey Woodall’s sixth, by hosting a seven-multi-meet meet Wednesday, Nov. 28. The Wildcats welcome Benson, Globe, Miami, San Manuel, Thatcher, and Tombstone.
Last season, Benson was sixth (80 points, 4-of-6 placers) at the state meet, Globe 18th (40, 2-3), Thatcher 19th (39, 2-7), San Manuel 22nd (28, 1-3), Miami 28th (19.5, 0-6), and Tombstone had nine entrants in the sectional meet but none qualified for the state meet.
Morenci ended 2018 with a fourth consecutive top two finish, as the state runner-up, scoring 25 points fewer than Saint Johns (146.5-171.5). It was the third straight year the Wildcats qualified 13 of 14 entrants. Twelve of 14 qualified in 2015.
The Wildcats were also state runners-up in 2015 (158.5 points) and state champions in both 2016 (208.5) and 2017 (218), up from fifth (2014, 146.5), third (2013, 164.5), and third (2012, 165.5).
Twenty-five MHS student-athletes are out for the Wildcats’ 2019 program, with four of nine state meet participants placing in the top five.
Heading the returnees is senior three-time section champion and three-time state meets placer Mark Roybal. He brings an 18-4 post-season record with 11 pins, 8-0 with five pins in sectional meets and 10-4 with six pins in state meets. Roybal was a state champion as a sophomore (4-0, 3 pins) plus fourth as both a freshman (3-2, 1 pin) and junior (3-2, 2 pins).
Senior Ruben Casillas is 12-4 with six pins in two post-seasons, 7-0 with two pins in sectionals and 5-4 with four pins in state meets. The two-time section champion was fourth at state as a junior (3-2, 2 pins) and did not place as a sophomore (2-2, 2 pins).
Junior Calvin Dunning is 6-2 with four pins in one post season, earning the section championship (3-0, 2 pins) and ending as a state fourth placer (3-2, 2 pins) as a sophomore.
Sophomore Marcus Morales 4-3 with six pins in the post-season, placing third in the sectional (3-1, 3 pins) and fifth (4-2, 3 pins) at state last season.
Other returning post-season participants include seniors Nathan Willey (7-5, 6 pins), Omar Ortega (4-4, 2 pins), and Beau Wagner (2-4), and juniors Carlos Bray (4-3, 2 pins) and Steven Roybal (5-5, 3 pins).
Willey was the section champion (2-0, 2 pins) as a junior and placed third (3-1, 2 pins) as a sophomore and did not place at state in either season; Wagner placed fourth (2-2) in the sectional and did not place at state as a junior; and Bray (3-1, 2 pins), Ortega (3-2, 2 pins), and Roybal (4-1, 2 pins) were each sectional third placers and did not place at state last season.
Others vying for the privilege of representing the school are seniors Nessa Martinez and Markus Wirkus; sophomores Conrad Aguallo, Joseph Hernandez, David Martinez Jr., PaulDaniel Moreno, and Jarett Saiz; and freshmen Vance Arthur, Landin Carlin, Seth Hudman, Josh Luna, Kaden Summer, Martin Smith, Tony Roybal, Cody Torres, and Corbin Wilson.
Vince Buccellato, Zach Buccellato, Anthony Gomez, Leonard Morales, Ray Morales, and Gilbert Padilla are assisting Woodall.