Morenci wrestlers poised for 2020 campaign, return eight post-season participants

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Sophomore Cody Torres, bottom, partnered up with senior Steven Roybal during a recent practice. Torres ended his initial campaign as a section champion and state third placer. Roybal is a three-time state meet participant, placing third and second in the sectional meet. Morenci will be competing in a couple of meets before hosting Saint Johns for a Dec. 10 dual.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – A total of 22 student-athletes are ready for the 2020 wrestling season to start, with eight having post-season experience. Those include four section champions and a state runner-up among the 17 returning for the program’s 47th season.

Heading the Wildcats are seniors Carlos Bray, Calvin Dunning, Steven Roybal, and Omar Ortega; juniors Conrad Aguallo and Marcus Leonard; and sophomores Shawn Hudman and Cody Torres.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Calvin Dunning works on an escape from sophomore Shawn Hudman. Dunning is a two-time section champion and state 4th placer. Hudman represented Morenci in last season’s sectional meet.

Dunning (13-4, 7 pins) finished as section champion and 4th at state in both 2018 and 2019, Leonard (14-4, 11 pins) was the section champion and third at state as a sophomore plus third in the section and fifth at state as a freshman, and Torres (5-1, 1 pin) was the section champion and third at state last season.

Bray (12-5, 6 pins) has placed third three times, as a sophomore and junior at the sectional and as a junior at state and Ortega (5-6, 2 pins) was third in the section as a sophomore.

Roybal (8-8, 6 pins) has three sectional and three state meets under his belt. He finished third as a sophomore and second as a junior at the sectionals (6-4, 4 pins) and did not place at state (2-4, 2 pins).

Hudman (1-2, 1 pin) represented Morenci in the 2019 sectional but did not qualify for the state meet.

Others out for the program include senior Dominick Gonzales; juniors Joseph Hernandez and Jarret Saiz; sophomores Brenden Enriquez, Martin Smith, Kaiden Summer, and Richard Trott III; and freshmen Andrew Castillo, Jordan Fernandez, Louie Lucero, Arthur Rodriguez, Arianna Sarrett, Jaeden Seballos, and Damon Saiz.

Zach Buccellato, Anthony Gomez, Ray Morales, Gilbert Padilla, Travis Torres, and Tim Williams are assisting 7th-year Morenci head coach Casey Woodall.

The Wildcats will participate in a couple of meets, at the Benson Multi Dec. 4 and the 2-day Gila Valley Invitational Dec. 6-7, before hosting Saint Johns for a Dec. 10 dual.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Marcus Morales works on getting an advantage over senior Carlos Bray. Morales ended 2019 as a section champion and state runner-up. He finished third in the section and fifth at state in 2018. Bray placed third thrice, twice in the section and once at state.

Morenci has eight section titles in nine years, earning the fifth consecutive team award under Woodall last season. The Greenlee County boys qualified nine of 13 entrants in 2019; 13 of 14 in 2018, 2017 and 2016; plus 12 of 14 in 2015. The meet was postponed and canceled in 2014 due to health concerns regarding skin disease.

The Wildcats have finished in the Division IV Top 10 in each of the previous nine seasons, with the lowest being fifth during Woodall’s initial season in 2014. The Wildcats were third thrice (2012-13, 2019), runners-up thrice (2011, 2015, 2018), and twice champions (2016-17).

Additionally, Morenci has been region champions nine times (1992, 1998-99, 2000-01, 2003, 2005, 2009-10), and 1A/2A state champions five times (1999, 2000-01, 2003, 2005).

Woodall (2014-20) is the ninth different head coach for Morenci. He follows Dan Goddard (1974), Lynne Nuttall (1975-76, 1980), Sam Walter (1977), Bill Havice (1978), John Pash (1979), Gilbert Padilla (1981-2006), Vince Buccellato (2007-08), and Jason Howard (2009-13).

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