Vargas Wins Final Career Home Match

Perry Takes Team Crown in Annual Prospector Open

By Daniel Dullum

Taylor Vargas of Apache Junction was determined to make the most of his final wrestling match in his home gym.

As the only AJ wrestler to reach the finals of the Prospector Open tournament on Jan. 13, Vargas fulfilled his goal by defeating Cody Foote of Red Mountain 10-4 for the 138-pound title.

“It means so much, because last year I believe I should have got first, and only lost one. I came back,” Vargas said. “It’s so overwhelming, because this is the last time I’ll wrestle in this stadium – it’s a stadium to me.

“It’s more than a gym, it’s my school and I love this school so much.

“It feels good, but I’ve been working so hard and outworking my opponents,” Vargas added. “I had to beat him mentally as well as physically. I have to beat him physically, mentally or technically. It took two out of three to beat him.”

In the 138 championship, Vargas used numerous reversals and escapes to earn the victory.

“I’m always watching videos of the highest level of wrestling I can find, always watching to see how they do things and try to imitate it. I work on all of it in the wrestling room, scrambles, escapes. I always go on offense, I know how to score every time, even if I’m in a defensive position, I can go on offense.

“I love wrestling and I work so hard all season to get here, and to beat a kid at that level.”

Vargas, who signed his letter of intent to wrestler at Briar Cliff in Iowa earlier this season, feels the Prospector Open “helps immensely” in preparation for the upcoming sectionals.

“I just got seven or eight matches in, which is a lot,” he said. “Usually you get three or four, I got double that. Now I know what I have to do to work, get first at state.”

Chandler Perry won the overall team championship, and San Tan Valley Combs claimed second.

Though the Prospectors didn’t have a full lineup, Coach David Smith said, “We had a good time at a good event. We try to bring in some tough competition to test our guys and show them what they’re made of.

“This year, there was a little higher caliber overall, making it harder to get to that medal stand.”

Elsewhere for the Prospectors, Ethan Wright pinned Luis Lopez of Skyline in 4:00 to claim the third-place title. Wright also had pins over Devin Montgomery of Combs and Andre Lopez of Red Mountain (1:17).

At 170, Gabe Marquez earned an 8-0 major decision in round one of the consolation bracket over Joey Moya of Carl Hayden. Marquez defeated Caleb Milnes of Arizona Lutheran 8-5, but lost by pin to Travis Calloway of Perry in the quarterfinals.

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