New era begins in season of firsts: Pavlenko’s inaugural season sees wrestling reach new height


Photo by Roman Valenzuela. Senior Ikaika Maldonado trying to pin down Basha’s 170 pound contender Eli Haney, in a meet last month. Ikaika finished the season as the Division I runner up at 170 pounds.

Puma’s Wrestling in the 2019-2020 season saw a groundbreaking season, the Pumas took the Division-1, Section I championship by storm, and twelve individual wrestlers headed to the Arizona state championship at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott. “Everyone wrestled well, performed,” said head coach Alex Pavlenko, “some wrestled better than others, but overall it was a great tournament.”

         In a landmark season, that showed a new era in Puma’s Wrestling, head coach Alex Pavlenko led the team to the sectional win in the school’s history, as well as

the first top ten finish at state for the Pumas. “A great group of seniors, and they’ll do well in college”.

Perry Wrestling loses 4 seniors who placed at state, Jacob Kimling, Ikaika Maldonado, Cooper Call, and Alex Edjourian, “Grateful to have gone from not even contending for state, to

being a state runner up” said Ikaika Maldonado, reflecting on his senior year. Leaving the junior medalist Caleb Milnes, who took 4th at 160 as the only returning state placer.“It’s all about getting better,” said Milnes, who went 28-9 over the course of this year, but he’s not the only one who’s looking forward, “We had a strong JV and freshmen program… Freshmen went undefeated, and JV only had one loss at the beginning of the season”.

But the Pumas would take sixth overall in the tournament, with five wrestlers on the podium, a new school record. Head coach Alex Pavlenko has had a profound effect on the program at Perry. Senior 106-pounder Daniel Mendoza spoke about Pavlenko as a coach, “The practices he has us go through, he knows they’ll work, He knows

what he’s doing”

At the beginning of the season, the Pumas had only a handful of wrestlers to rebuild a team, and under the new leadership of head coach Alex Pavlenko, the team stuck to the mantra of “Getting better every day”, and with five wrestlers returning from the state

tournament with medals around their necks, the results are pretty clear.

“Look good, Feel good, Wrestle good”