Tinghitella wins second straight state championship

Camp Verde senior Anthony Tinghitella celebrates winning his second straight state championship Friday night at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. VVN/James Kelley

Camp Verde senior Anthony Tinghitella celebrates winning his second straight state championship Friday night at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. VVN/James Kelley

Camp Verde High wrestling enjoyed a historic trip to the state tournaments last week.

Three Cowboys placed at the state tournaments at Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, led by two-time state champion Anthony Tinghitella and freshman Caylee Townsend, who took third at the inaugural girls AIA state wrestling tournament. Junior Benji Perez finished fifth in the 126-pound weight class.

“Our goal was to get our two-time state champion and we were really happy about that,” CV head coach Larry Allred said. “I was really pleased with Benji Perez, he was extremely tough, couldn’t quite be a state placer last year, he fell short of the medal rounds, worked his butt off this year, both those boys. And just to see that hard work pay off in that pinnacle moment at a state championship was incredible.”

Tinghitella repeated as 132-pound Division IV state champion.

After winning on Friday he said he was pretty excited.

“It’s senior year, I’m done with it all and I just couldn’t be happier with my performance,” Tinghitella said. “It’s just

as good as the first one I’m just as excited, if not maybe more I mean a lot of hard work.”

Tinghitella finished his senior year 51-0. He won two state championships in his two seasons wrestling for Camp Verde.

“I truly feel blessed, very, very blessed, especially with everything that’s happened Jesus has been on my side the entire time,” Tinghitella said.

Allred said going undefeated is tough but Tinghitella’s hard work and the expertise of the assistant coaches helped him a lot.

“Going undefeated is quite a chore,” Allred said. “He’s got great training partners, my son Ryan, a four-time Arizona state champion wrestled with him everyday, my son in law Jacob Wolfe, a state champion, they were in there with Anthony every day just working with him, wrestling him, preparing him for this. Champions aren’t built by themselves, so there were excellent, excellent young men helping out to mentor and teach him to get to the level that he got to.”

Tinghitella opened the tournament with a 16-0 win, then a 7-0 win, then a 12-4 win in the semifinals before winning the championship match 5-2.

Allred said “nervous is an understatement” when asked if he was nervous about the championship match.

“When you’re in the state finals, it’s the best kids and there’s no fish, there’s no easy match, you better be ready to wrestle I expect a tight match in any state final,” Allred said. “Anthony wrestled tough, he went after it, he got it done when he needed to get done, so I’m proud of his performance.”

Townsend took third in the first girls state tournament, in the 101-pound weight class. There were not separate divisions in girls wrestling.

Townsend lost to the eventual state champion in the semifinals but bounced back to win the third place match 10-0.

“What’s really cool about Caylee was that I saw her at the beginning of the year and Caylee really had to have improved more than anybody,” Allred. “She went from a girl who was kinda green and inexperienced and just through perseverance and hard work that young lady just took third in the first AIA girls state ever, I mean I’m a proud, I’m a proud coach. It’s incredibly exciting.”

She finished the season 17-3.

“That’s awesome to see the first AIA wrestling tournament for girls to have one of our own place at it pretty high is a good feeling I’m proud of her,” Tinghitella said.

As a team, the Cowboys boys finished 15th. Santa Cruz Valley won the Division IV title.

“I think it was a rebuilding year but all of our wrestlers fought really hard and we’re blessed to have brought so many wrestlers,” Tinghitella said.

Perez took fifth at 126, winning the fifth place match 4-2.

Allred said the future could be bright for the Cowboys.

“We got some young hungry ones, Benji’s back next year, Anthony’s a senior, he’s gone but they’re all hungry, they’re all hungry, they all see what those two accomplished and that’s they’re goal and they’re committed to a year round program, ready to come in all offseason,” Allred said. “They’re committed to do the same things Benji and Anthony did to get to that level and I’m confident that as a program that we can produce champions if they’re willing to pay the price. We as coaches are willing to sacrifice and pay the price during that time, so if they will too I can guarantee that we’re gonna have more state champions.”

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