Local Roundup: Panthers back Bennett named to 4A All-Conference Second Team

Local Roundup: Panthers back Bennett named to 4A All-Conference Second Team

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A Coconino Panthers rusher was named to the 4A All-Conference Second Team as the list was released Wednesday by the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA).

Junior Zach Bennett, who led the team in rushing yards and touchdowns during a record-breaking year, made the All-Conference roll call as a running back. He was one of three players out of the Grand Canyon Region to earn All-Conference honors, with Prescott's Aaron Greene making the list as a defensive lineman and Bradshaw Mountain's Noah Shaver as a long snapper.

Bennett, who totaled a new school record of single-season rushing at 1,753 yards, helped lead the Panthers back to the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The 2019 Daily Sun football athlete of the year, Bennett broke the school's single-season rushing touchdowns record in addition to several others.

The team's leading rushing also in his sophomore year, Bennett finished his junior campaign with a total of 409 career rushing attempts, the second most in school history behind Bruce Branch's 519 from 1998 to 2000.

Not long after the Panthers ended their season with a first-round loss at home in the postseason, he was named the 2019 Grand Canyon Region Offensive Player of the Year. His first-year head coach, Mike Lapsely, was named the region's coach of the year.


The Coconino Panthers went 0-2 in a multi featuring Snowflake and Show Low last week in Snowflake, losing 60-18 to the former and 48-32 to the latter.

Tony Hernandez finished the outing with a 2-0 record, wrestling at 113 pounds and notching both his victories by fall. Michael Woods and Anthony Escalera were the only other Coconino wrestlers to pull off wins against Snowflake.

Woods lost at 132 pounds against his Show Low opponent. He was at 126 pounds for a pin against Snowflake. Escalera lost by fall in his Show Low match and got a pin in his Snowflake match.

Hernandez, a sophomore, improved to 14-2 overall. His Panthers teammate Pedro Billups moved to 15-0 with a major decision win, 19-7, against Show Low, but he did not wrestle against Snowflake.

Coconino, which sat a few wrestlers for the day, allowed Show Low a stretch of four straight pins from 145 to 170 pounds, and a forfeit stopped the bleeding. Panthers heavyweight Ulises Gutierrez pinned his Show Low opponent.

Freshman Cooper French finished 1-1, getting an 8-0 major decision victory against Show Low at 138 pounds but losing by decision against Snowflake at 132 pounds.

All three teams are Division III, Section Four squads.

Coconino will have a busy weekend as it is set to compete at the Moon Valley Wrestling Invitational in Phoenix starting Friday.


The Flagstaff City Wrestling Championships took place on Saturday at Sinagua Middle School, with 60 wrestlers total from Sinagua, NPA and Mount Elden middle schools registering for the event.

There were eight weight classes and most of them were filled with seven to nine wrestlers each. Every wrestler had to wrestle the entirety of the weight class, and winners were all undefeated contestants.

Cullen Callender of NPA won the 81- to 83-pound class, Kole Flores was the victory of the 84-92 class and another Sinagua wrestler, Nolan Wilson, won the 93-104 division.

Wyatt Rangate was the lone MEMS wrestler to battle to a title, winning the 105-110 class.

Sinagua had four others win their classes in Devin Williams (111-118); Bridger French (119-129); Javier Camerana (130-142), and Taylor Johnson (142+).


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