Gaona in the Game

Gaona: Cholla wrestler recovered following nasty injury

2014-01-10T00:00:00Z 2014-01-10T13:06:05Z Gaona: Cholla wrestler recovered following nasty injuryDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The last time Cholla’s Danny Roberts wrestled at the Peoria High Tournament of Champions, he suffered a grisly ankle fracture.

“You could hear the snap from where we were at,” said Chargers coach Robert Soza-Villanueva, who was mat-side. “He was beating the kid and all of the sudden that ankle went out.”

Preliminary tests gave the impression it was just a severe sprain, but X-rays proved otherwise. Roberts suffered a spiral fracture, an injury that occurs when one extremity stays put while the rest of the body is twisted.

Surgeons installed a metal plate and seven screws into Roberts’ right ankle; the injury and rehabilitation kept him away from wrestling for six months.

Now, though, the 160-pound senior has never looked better.

Roberts improved to 30-0 on Wednesday afternoon after a major decision and a pair of first-period pins in a four-team meet at Cienega.

Today, he’ll return to the Tournament of Champions for the first time since breaking his ankle. The prestigious event draws more than 30 teams, most of them from Arizona. Roberts placed sixth there last year, but is hoping to leave as a winner this time.

“I feel like I deserve it,” he said. “I try my best. I only have five classes, so I work out before practice, go to practice and run the track after practice when it’s dark.

“I don’t see how I could put any more in.”

Roberts has put in plenty of work to get to this point. He had a cast on his ankle until the end of March and couldn’t walk until sometime in April. He started doing some training in June and was able to get back to live wrestling about a month later.

When it came time for his first match Nov. 26, Roberts wasn’t sure if he was ready.

But everything just clicked: Roberts pinned his first opponent in 5 minutes 11 seconds.

“I’m proud of him,” Soza-Villanueva said. “Some kids get hurt and that’s it, they’re done, they just never regain that confidence back.

“It took a little while, but as soon as he got the go on it, that focus was back.”

If Roberts isn’t already one of the favorites to win a state title next month in Prescott Valley, a win this weekend would certainly put him in that category. His biggest win this season was a 6-1 decision over Amphitheater senior Jesus Barrera, last year’s 152-pound state champion in Division III.

Roberts said he feels capable and ready to win a state championship already. This weekend’s tournament will allow the senior to work on his conditioning leading up to the state meet.

It would only be fitting for him to win state. Roberts’ older brother, Chris, went 42-1 on his way to winning the 171-pound 4A-II state title with the Chargers in 2010.

“He wants to win state, there’s no other option for him right now,” Soza-Villanueva said. “The way he’s wrestling right now, I don’t see why he won’t get it.”

Palo Verde’s Mayfield leaves Titans for second time

For the second time in his Hall of Fame career, Todd Mayfield has resigned as Palo Verde’s football coach. Mayfield spent last season with the Titans after three seasons away from coaching to care for his father, Ollie.

Palo Verde got out to a 5-1 start last fall but lost its final four games and narrowly missed a trip to the Division IV state playoffs. Mayfield led the Titans to the 4A-II state championship in 2005 and had them in the playoffs 10 times in his 13 total seasons.

Former Pueblo star Perez has big night for Nevada

Nevada junior guard Michael Perez, a Pueblo graduate, tied his season-high in scoring Wednesday night as the Wolf Pack won 74-71 at UNLV. He went 7 for 12 from the field for 18 points, pulled in seven rebounds and dished out three assists. It was the third time this season Perez has scored 18 points; his 12.3 points per game average ranks third on the team.

Three area players get
college football offers

Sabino senior offensive lineman Andrew Mike received a scholarship offer from Florida on Tuesday, two days after starring in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. His top three choices remain Arizona, Vanderbilt and Washington.

Also this week, Sahuaro wide receiver Cole Sterns received an offer from South Dakota State, and Sierra Vista Buena defensive lineman Sidney Malauulu got an offer from Wyoming.

Catalina hosting wrestling tourney today, Saturday

Sixteen teams from around Southern Arizona will head to Catalina this weekend as it hosts the Battle for Troy wrestling tournament. The event gets underway at 10:30 a.m. today and will run through the evening. Action will resume at 10 a.m. Saturday with the championship round scheduled for 5 p.m.

Contact high school sports coordinator Daniel Gaona at dgaona@azstarnet.com or 807-7761. On Twitter @DanielGaona13

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