With only seven entries in the 16 weight classes, the Rim Country Middle School Maverick wrestling team didn't figure to make much of a splash in the Arizona State Junior High School Championship Tournament.
As depleted as the Mavericks were, the team managed to tally 113 points and finish third in the school division of gold medal games held last weekend at Hamilton High School in Chandler.
Phoenix's Greenfield won the state crown with 136 points. Mesquite tallied 116 as the runner-up.
Among the club teams that participated in the tournament, the highly acclaimed Sunkist Kids -- an all-star contingent of young wrestlers from around Arizona -- easily won the state title.
Had the Maverick team been at full strength, coach Jon Vick said, "we probably would have won the state school championship."
The Mavericks were without the services of several of their grapplers who were on the RCMS mat squad during the White Mountain League season last November and December. Those athletes are now members of the RCMS basketball team that is participating in the WML hoop campaign.
"We didn't have some of our big guns," Vick said.
The best effort from the RCMS contingent was turned in by Waylon Quotskuyva, who compiled a 5-0 tournament record and won the 142-pound state championship.
Quotskuyva was also named one of the four outstanding wrestlers of the tournament.
The youngster, who was also a standout running back on RCMS's undefeated WML championship football team and a member of the Tonto Apache Tribe Track and Field team, said he was excited with his new title of "state champion."
The Mavs picked up another sterling effort from Taylor Walden in the 154-pound class. The eighth-grader finished 4-1 and was tournament runner-up.
In the championship round against an opponent competing unattached, Walden gave up two penalty points for locking his hands, and then a reversal to lose a 4-0 decision.
Matt McCarty was third after wrestling his way to a 5-1 record among the 93-pounders.
Larry Wilbanks shined in the 98-pound battles with a 4-2 record and fourth-place honors.
Zach Lee, a 104-pounder, finished sixth with 4-3 credentials.
Bryce River, younger brother of PHS heavyweight Blair River, had one pin and one loss in the 167-pound class.
In the 180-pound mat battles, Jason Welch was 1-2, his one victory coming on a pin.
The efforts of the aspiring Rim country grapplers, Vick said, were extremely commendable in light of the quality of competition. "It was an extremely difficult tournament to succeed in," he said.
The Payson youngsters, all eighth-grade students except Wilbanks, will begin to focus their energies on the high school program of coach Dennis Pirch.
Vick, himself once a Longhorn wrestler, says he has little doubt they will succeed.
"These boys will make an immediate impact on the high school team. They are the best team I've ever coached," he said.