By Richard Smith
West Valley Preps
For four years, the rest of the Deer Valley wrestling team operated in the considerable shadow of Jacob Swift as he claimed four state title and fashioned one of the legendary careers in Arizona wrestling history.
In the first year after Swift, however, the Skyhawks did not disappear from the scene entirely. Senior Carlos Vargas turned in a Swift-like season if not a Swift-like career.
Vargas dominated the 106-pound class, finishing the year with a 55-1 record. Vargas capped off the season in complete control at the state tournament, allowing only two points total in his four-match blitz.
“Carlos was very dominating this season and his 55-1 record shows that. Collecting a second period win by way of tech fall (wrestling’s form of the mercy rule) in the state finals was very unexpected for myself and his brother Cristian who were coaching in his corner. I think Carlos saw the finish line and went full sprint to his title,” Deer Valley varsity wrestling coach Jake Severn said. “It is so rewarding to watch a wrestler come through our program and earn the right to be a champion. Carlos above being a tough wrestler is an exceedingly great young man that we all gain happiness from by seeing him succeed.”
Jake Severn coaches the varsity, though his father, Dave, is the overall coach of the program. Wrestling is a family affair in the Vargas household too.
Christian, was an accomplished wrestler for the Skyhawks and now helps coach the team. His example led Carlos into the sport in middle school. Younger brother Andrew also wrestles for Deer Valley.
“Cristian was a very successful high school wrestler so we knew that Carlos was going to be capable to do big things from his freshman year on. We really believed Carlos was going to be a two time state champ for the Skyhawks. He fell one win shy of placing at state his sophomore year so we knew his Junior and Senior year were going to be prosperous for him,” Coach Severn said.
Vargas also stayed in the smallest weight class all four years, which is a bit unusual. However, Coach Severn said Deer Valley has had several wrestlers come through the program and be at 106 for all four years.
The initial plan was to have Carlos wrestle 113 this season, the coach said, because in the off season he was hovering around 120. He moved back to wrestle at 106 after about the first month of practices as Vargas shed some pounds from hard work.
“It was unusual. After my sophomore year I thought I would gain more weight. Because of how active I was during the summer I would barely stay above that weight,” Vargas said.
Part of that tireless work stemmed from a near miss in 2016. Vargas placed third at 106 pounds as a junior after entering state believing he would win.
Coach Severn said while happy to be on the podium, Vargas was motivated by Caden Perez of Sunrise Mountain claiming state a week after Vargas beat him for the section title.
“In my junior year I was kind of ranked to be a state champ and it got the best of me. When I didn’t win that, I told myself I’ve got to be the state champ no matter what,” Vargas said.
His only loss this year, at the Peoria Invitational, provided further motivation. From there he was undefeated and largely unchallenged.
A 6-2 win in the first round of state was as close as it got.
“My coach always told me the toughest match is always your first match. You’re never really ready for that. You always try to get warmed up but it’s so early in the morning that you just aren’t ready,” Vargas said. “That match I actually got scored on once. I couldn’t reach my potential in that match.”
After that match Vargas had something to eat and for the rest of state, his opposition went hungry. He won his quarterfinal 17-0 by a technical fall and took the semifinal by a 10-0 decision.
In the championship Vargas dominates Phoenix South Mountain freshman Andres Avelar for a 15-0 technical fall victory.
“When I won state it felt like I fulfilled my coaches’ dreams for me. Having my brother there as coach pushed me through most of the high school career,” Vargas said.
Vargas said he’s focusing on academics for college and wants to study business. If he gets an offer to wrestle, particularly in state, he will take it.
Thus far Boston University, New Mexico and Nevada have shown the most interest.