Tucson High School Sports

Walden Grove Earns Second Straight Title of Meaningful Diego Gadea Invitational

The final round of the Diego Gadea Salpointe Invitational Saturday afternoon started with the parents of the late wrestler, whose name is honored by the event, standing in front of a nearly packed Salpointe gymnasium.

With Manuel Gadea standing beside Jeannie, he talked to a very silent crowd as he took the mic. The wrestlers who were about to compete stood still and listened, no longer moving about trying to stay warm and loose before their matches.

Manuel and Jeannie courageously stood before everyone with Manuel talking about the difficult topic of their son, Diego, committing suicide in 2011 at age 17 after battling depression.

Walden Grove senior Diego Guerrero, standing between Manuel and Jeannie Gadea, earned his third consecutive Most Outstanding Wrestler honor of the Diego Gadea Invitational at Salpointe (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

“I want to say this to anybody here if you’re down, if you’re depressed ask for help. … Talk about it,” Manuel said. “If one person is touched as a result of this tournament, it will be extremely rewarding for Diego, Jeannie and me and the family … I wish good luck to all the wrestlers.”

Before speaking to the crowd, Manuel and Jeannie mentioned to me it is a difficult experience, but a rewarding one, coming to Salpointe annually for their son to be honored as part of this invitational that includes wrestlers from more than 20 schools in the state.

Diego Gadea (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

“It’s always emotional to walk back into this gym for this tournament … talking about it will always bring tears to my eyes,” Jeannie said. “I really admire Salpointe for having the courage to bring us here and bring awareness to Diego’s life and his depression.

“It’s not an easy thing to talk about. There’s still a lot of stigma. We feel by being open and present, that it takes away a little bit of that fear of talking about it.”

Added Manuel, “If we can help one kid, it’s worth it. It’s hard to be here. We want to be a parent that’s sitting in the stands, but it’s a reality and we accept it. If there is one life that is touched, one kid that can be helped because of this tournament, it will be rewarding.”

Desert View coach Sam Portillo wore a t-shirt during the finals Saturday that had the image of former Sunnyside and ASU standout wrestler Eddie Urbano, who also took his life in 2012 after a bout with depression.

Portillo showed me on his cellphone Diego Gadea’s phone number.

“I talked to him two days before he did that,” Portillo said. “Eddie also committed suicide. That’s why this tournament means a lot to me. That’s why I wore this shirt. They took each other’s life. You’re talking about a high school kid to a national champion — it happens to everybody.

“(The invitational) has a huge meaning to me.”

Desert View coach Sam Portillo wore a shirt to the finals of the Diego Gadea Invitational showing the image of Eddie Urbano, a former Sunnyside and ASU standout wrestler who took his life in 2012 (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

In fitting fashion, the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the event for a third consecutive year is named Diego. Walden Grove’s Diego Guerrero, a senior bound for Iowa Western next year on a wrestling scholarship, earned that honor.

He improved to 44-2 with his win by fall in 1:56 over Laveen Cesar Chavez’s George Poland in the title match of the 134-pound class. Guerrero improved his four-year career record to 208-7 with the victory.

“It’s a really good way to show me that all my work has paid off,” Guerrero said about the Most Outstanding Wrestler designation. “It’s actually a hard thing to believe. A lot of kids don’t even get on the podium. It’s cool to see myself at the top the last four years.”

Guerrero was one of five titlists in the tournament for Walden Grove, which captured the team championship of the event for the second consecutive year. Walden Grove edged Cesar Chavez 270.5-264. Cienega placed third with 155 points.

Walden Grove after winning its second consecutive Diego Gadea Salpointe Invitational title (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

“(Winning the team title) shows a lot of what we’re doing is paying off as a team,” Guerrero said. “We can only go up from there. We have sectionals and state coming up. It will be good to get those two as well.”

Walden Grove’s champions in the Diego Gadea Invitational other than Guerrero:

128 pounds: Owen Berry, a junior, won by fall in 3:48 over San Manuel’s Julian Rodriguez.

140 pounds: Carlos Ramos, a senior, won by a 3-1 decision over Cesar Chavez’s Adrian Cruz.

147 pounds: Evan Killgore, a senior, won by an 8-5 decision over Cienega’s Carlo Castagnano.’

287 pounds: Adam Alvarenga, a senior, won by a 4-1 decision over Ervyn Rivuis of Desert View.

“Luckily, we’re a senior-loaded class and actually we had won this last year, too, so it’s a little bit of tradition, a little bit of our guys working hard,” Walden Grove coach Victor Gonzalez said. “Super proud of our seniors for leading the way. We’ve got some good underclassmen as well.

“It’s a big deal for us because we’re a small from Sahuarita, about 1,100 enrollment, so it’s big to be doing well at all of these tournaments.”

The Diego Gadea Invitational trophy hardware (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

The following are the results for each weight class:

108 pounds

1st Place – Chase Sorenson of Blue Ridge
2nd Place – Javier Duran of Cesar Chavez
3rd Place – Brandon Lee of Flowing Wells
4th Place – Parker Cirone of Horizon
5th Place – Tyler Allison of Cienega
6th Place – Nathan Gunder of Campo Verde

1st Place Match
Chase Sorenson (Blue Ridge) 11-2, Jr. over Javier Duran (Cesar Chavez) 28-4, Jr. (Fall 2:56)

115 pounds

1st Place – Dyson Navarro of Blue Ridge
2nd Place – Gabriel Castillo of Walden Grove
3rd Place – Xander Terrian of Campo Verde
4th Place – Ayden Navarro of Gila Ridge
5th Place – Kristopher Sanchez of Cesar Chavez
6th Place – Luis Hernandez of Desert View

1st Place Match
Dyson Navarro (Blue Ridge) 41-14, Jr. over Gabriel Castillo (Walden Grove) 25-13, Sr. (Dec 4-3)

122 pounds

1st Place – Andres Avelar of Cesar Chavez
2nd Place – Gilbert Rodriguez of San Manuel
3rd Place – Damond Lujan of Pueblo
4th Place – Jake Dunham of Campo Verde
5th Place – Sergio Ochotorena of Desert View
6th Place – Cole Hickey of Cienega

1st Place Match
Andres Avelar (Cesar Chavez) 16-2, . over Gilbert Rodriguez (San Manuel) 47-2, So. (TB-1 8-5)

128 pounds

1st Place – Owen Berry of Walden Grove
2nd Place – Julian Rodriguez of San Manuel
3rd Place – Trey Trejo of Canyon Del Oro
4th Place – Joe Misitano of Campo Verde
5th Place – Jericho Verduzco of Sahuaro
6th Place – Edwardo Duran of Cesar Chavez

1st Place Match
Owen Berry (Walden Grove) 43-1, Jr. over Julian Rodriguez (San Manuel) 30-11, Sr. (Fall 3:48)

Owen Berry of San Manuel

134 pounds

1st Place – Diego Guerrero of Walden Grove
2nd Place – George Poland of Cesar Chavez
3rd Place – Alex Maxson of Horizon
4th Place – Mason Comer of Canyon Del Oro
5th Place – Lance Allen of Gila Ridge
6th Place – Gabriel Arguello of Salpointe Catholic

1st Place Match
Diego Guerrero (Walden Grove) 44-2, Sr. over George Poland (Cesar Chavez) 31-4, Sr. (Fall 1:56)

Diego Guerrero of Walden Grove is about to pin his opponent in the 134-pound finals of the Diego Gadea Invitational (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Gonzalez (in the background to the right in the following photo) said of Guerrero: “You can’t replace a Diego Guerrero. We’re losing a big piece of our team. To have him has been just a blessing. He’s a good wrestler and an even better kid. He’s got a scholarship to Iowa Western and he’ll be doing us proud over there.”

Diego Guerro is congratulated by one of Walden Grove’s assistant coaches (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

140 pounds

1st Place – Carlos Ramos of Walden Grove
2nd Place – Adrian Cruz of Cesar Chavez
3rd Place – Rene Garcia of Canyon Del Oro
4th Place – George Sipie of Pueblo
5th Place – Jason Hill of Cienega
6th Place – Isaac Varela of Douglas

1st Place Match
Carlos Ramos (Walden Grove) 34-8, Sr. over Adrian Cruz (Cesar Chavez) 25-9, Sr. (Dec 3-1)

Walden Grove’s Carlos Ramos is congratulated by coach Victor Gonzalez after winning the 140-pound title of the Diego Gadea Invitaational (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

147 pounds

1st Place – Evan Killgore of Walden Grove
2nd Place – Carlo Castagnaro of Cienega
3rd Place – Giovanni Meza of Cesar Chavez
4th Place – Alex Young of Horizon
5th Place – Austin Pitts of Canyon Del Oro
6th Place – Dylan Bluth of Catalina Foothills

1st Place Match
Evan Killgore (Walden Grove) 43-2, Sr. over Carlo Castagnaro (Cienega) 30-4, Jr. (Dec 8-5)

154 pounds

1st Place – Samuel Hernandez of Cesar Chavez
2nd Place – Alex Klemm of Empire
3rd Place – Aiden Keith of Salpointe Catholic
4th Place – Jonathan Lopez of Desert View
5th Place – Caden Calloway of Campo Verde
6th Place – Hector Mendoza of Walden Grove

1st Place Match
Samuel Hernandez (Cesar Chavez) 32-6, . over Alex Klemm (Empire) 13-4, So. (Fall 2:28)

162 pounds

1st Place – Scott Kellenberger of Horizon
2nd Place – Marcos Gamez of Walden Grove
3rd Place – Gabe Levy of Cienega
4th Place – Diego Herrera of Cesar Chavez
5th Place – Sergio Romero of Rio Rico
6th Place – Zane Mckissick of Canyon Del Oro

1st Place Match
Scott Kellenberger (Horizon) 33-2, Sr. over Marcos Gamez (Walden Grove) 33-5, Jr. (Dec 5-2)

172 pounds

1st Place – Dominique Johnson of Cienega
2nd Place – Raul Moreno of Salpointe Catholic
3rd Place – Justin Rhoades of Gila Ridge
4th Place – Ryan Allsup of Horizon
5th Place – Isaiah Pogue of Pueblo
6th Place – Conrad Medina of Walden Grove

1st Place Match
Dominique Johnson (Cienega) 26-3, Sr. over Raul Moreno (Salpointe Catholic) 34-8, Sr. (Fall 3:14)

184 pounds

1st Place – Jayden Fletcher of Campo Verde
2nd Place – Charles Hindley of Pueblo
3rd Place – Max Zavalza of Salpointe Catholic
4th Place – Alex Galindo of Cesar Chavez
5th Place – Garrett Bejarano of Empire
6th Place – Manny De lara of Rio Rico

1st Place Match
Jayden Fletcher (Campo Verde) 30-7, Jr. over Charles Hindley (Pueblo) 43-6, Sr. (Dec 8-4)

197 pounds

1st Place – Erik Orozco of Cesar Chavez
2nd Place – Ricardo Avelar of Walden Grove
3rd Place – Andrik Valdez of Canyon Del Oro
4th Place – Taylor Deibert of Gila Ridge
5th Place – Mozes Valenzuela of Pueblo
6th Place – Garrett Christiansen of Horizon

1st Place Match
Erik Orozco (Cesar Chavez) 33-4, . over Ricardo Avelar (Walden Grove) 42-8, Jr. (Dec 5-1)

222 pounds

1st Place – Rafael Masella of Horizon
2nd Place – Jackson Edwards of Walden Grove
3rd Place – Jake Leighty of Campo Verde
4th Place – Omar Ibanez of Pueblo
5th Place – Michael Moussa of Catalina Foothills
6th Place – Devin Graham of Gila Ridge

1st Place Match
Rafael Masella (Horizon) 24-5, Jr. over Jackson Edwards (Walden Grove) 44-4, Sr. (SV-1 9-7)

287 pounds

1st Place – Adam Alvarenga of Walden Grove
2nd Place – Ervyn Rivuis of Desert View
3rd Place – Hernan Ortiz of Nogales
4th Place – Gregory Down of Cesar Chavez
5th Place – Juan Rabago of Pueblo
6th Place – Seth Liest of Cienega

1st Place Match
Adam Alvarenga (Walden Grove) 47-3, Sr. over Ervyn Rivuis (Desert View) 34-6, Sr. (Dec 4-1)

Walden Grove 287-pound wrestler Adam Alvarenga won his title match of the Diego Gadea Invitational (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

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