The Rim Country Middle School wrestling team travels west to Prescott tomorrow (Saturday) where the Mavericks will show their prowess on the mat in the Glassford Hills Invitational.
The RCMS squad will be a contender for the championship trophy, coach Jon Vick predicts.
Some of Vick's optimism is based on several strong individual performances turned in by the young grapplers since the onset of the White Mountain League season a month ago.
One of the most accomplished young wrestlers has been Larry Wilbanks, who has built a 10-0 record in the 105-pound competition. Also, he's captured weight class tournament championships at Camp Verde and Cottonwood.
In a dual meet 46-36 loss to Show Low last week, Wilbanks was at his wrestling best, ending the unbeaten streak of his heralded Cougar foe who entered the match as an overwhelming favorite.
In addition to the exploits of Wilbanks, the Maverick team effort has received a huge boost from Billy Bob Hoyt. His 8-0 record includes first-place tournament finishes in St. Johns and Cottonwood.
In the dual-meet loss to Show Low, Hoyt -- like Wilbanks -- was paired against an unbeaten opponent. The young Cougar, Sean Seymore was a two-time White Mountain League champion and a top-15 placer in last year's state junior high tournament.
Disregarding his foe's long list of credentials, Hoyt made quick work of the cat grappler pinning him in the first round.
"It was an awesome victory," Vick said.
Other Mavericks who could be contenders for weight-class championships at Glassford Hills include Brandon Boll and Daniel McGee.
Boll, a 127-pounder, is 8-1 overall with a third-place finish at Snowflake and a first-place showing in Cottonwood.
McGee is 6-1 as a 65-pounder and was a weight-class champion at Camp Verde.
Other grapplers Vick expects to turn in good efforts at Saturday's tournament include Bobby Nielson (65 pounds; 5-3 record), Brandon Kelley (70; 6-2), Porter Wilbanks (85; 7-3), Daniel Reisdorf (90; 6-2), Donnie Wilbanks (90; 6-2), Trevor LaHaye (95; 6-5), Ashton Shewey (114; 6-2), Nathan Lee (135; 7-3), Kevin Morgan (145; 7-3) and Mike Waterman (165; 5-1).
Following the team's return from the Glassford Hills mat battles, the Mavericks will immediately begin preparations for the all-important White Mountain League Championships which will be held Dec. 11 in Whiteriver.
Favorites for the WML title based on regular season performances, Vick said, are Snowflake, Show Low and Blue Ridge.
But the Mavericks -- who stand fourth in the league -- might have an opportunity to come away with a victory.
"This team can walk away with the league trophy," Vick boldly states.
So, what will it take for the Mavs to surprise league onlookers and earn the school's first WML wrestling title?
"We need to polish our techniques, work to our full potential the next week and at the same time elevate our tough level to that of the other teams," Vick said.
Only time will tell if the fledgling wrestlers are up to those challenges.