The city of Peoria was set to proclaim Tuesday, April 16, Peoria Liberty Lions Wrestling Champion Day to honor Arizona’s top boys wrestling program.
The Liberty Lions claimed the AIA Division 1 state title in early February, for their second state championship since 2016. The City Council was set to host the team during its April 16 meeting.
The meeting is part of a long celebration. Liberty also held an assembly at the school and its own team celebration. The wrestlers will soon get championship rings.
Coach Eric Brenton, who led the team in its 2016 title, said it’s a pleasure to be honored by the Peoria council.
“It’s a time for us to celebrate everyone on the team who made it possible,” Brenton added.
“Obviously, you’ve got the varsity guys who were out there on the mat, but the guys who were there in practice, all the parents and everybody who helped out, it’s for all them, too.”
When Liberty claimed its 2016 title, Peoria had a similar celebration, and Brenton gave a speech thanking his athletes and the city for recognizing their efforts.
Brenton expects this celebration to be the same. It is another way for the stellar athletes to receive the accolades they deserve. Many in the wrestling community feel like their accomplishments are dwarfed by other sports.
“These kids love any chance to be in the spotlight,” he said. “They worked for it, and wrestling doesn’t always get the same type of attention that some of the other sports do, so this is really cool.”
The day also served as just another reminder of what dedication to the sport can accomplish for Liberty athletes. The Lions who were not participating in other sports were back on the mats for spring practices as early as two weeks after hoisting the trophy. They want to be in this exact situation again next year.
“They are celebrating the championship, but they’re not really dwelling on it,” Brenton said. “We want to be back here winning again next year, and looking at some of the guys we have coming back we think we have a good shot. But, first, we’re going to enjoy this day.”