Editor's Note: This story was published online by West Valley Preps in the Feb. 19, 2016 edition of the Glendale/Peoria Today paper about Liberty High School's first state team wrestling title.
PRESCOTT VALLEY -There have been very few team races filled with as much drama as that which unfolded in Division II this season.
Seton Catholic and Liberty were the known contenders. It was a 50-50 split as to who was going to win it throughout the season.
Nothing changed after the first three championship rounds.
By the time last week’s finals at the Prescott Valley Event Center came around, the anticipation and pressure was clear.
And with both teams having a finalist at 182 pounds — Seton’s Bridger Barker and Liberty’s Miles Nuessle — it was inevitable that it
was going to be the swing match to determine it.
Nuessle pulled off a 3-1 win with an escape and takedown with about 30 seconds remaining in the third to pull Liberty within one of Seton with two Lions’ wrestlers to go.
“Miles was the heavy underdog and that’s what he thrived on and he wrestled an amazing match, stuck to his game plan and pulled
it off,” Liberty coach Eric Brenton, filled with emotion, said. “He trained for that match with the vision of Barker, kind of Vision Quest-style. That was an eight-point swing.”
Liberty won 164-159.
“I woke up at 4:45 (a.m.) and started crunching numbers,” Brenton said. “I said we need 68 points to win and it was close. They had so many horses, but we went 3-for-3 in the finals and had so many kids come through.”
The other champions were Trey Escobar at 113 and Blake Smith at 195.
“I did this for my team,” Smith said. “I knew it was up to me and it was a great feeling to help our team win state. We busted our butts every week the whole year. This is one of the greatest feelings in the world.”
The Red Dot Squad, only those who wrestle for Liberty know what it truly means, finally got to a
place only the best can call home.
“I had an Arizona coach tell me it cost the program about $100,000 over the years to win a state title with all of the travel during the summer and to tough tournaments,” Brenton said. “It’s something I never forgot and I told my booster club president and looked at the numbers and he said that’s about where we are at.
“After that I thought it