Fueled by the efforts of four weight class champions, the Rim Country Middle School Maverick wrestling team battled its way to bronze-medal laurels at the White Mountain League championship tournament.
Payson finished with 169 points to trail only league runner-up Mogollon (189) and champion Snowflake (225). Blue Ridge (165) was fourth and Show Low (153) fifth.
WML gold-medal winners in the finale held Dec. 9 in St. Johns included Mark McCarty (83 pounds), Donnie Wilbanks (98), Nathan Lee (142) and Mike Waterman (180). In the championship round, McCarty, Wilbanks and Lee won by decisions. Waterman won on a pin.
Lee finished the junior high/middle school season with a perfect 15-0 record, RCMS coach Gary Ritter said.
Also medaling at the WML championships were Andy Sanders (third; 125), Don Engler (third; 167) and Josh Quotskuyva (fourth; 154).
During regular season wars, the Mavericks sported a potential WML champion in 73-pound Dan McGee who won the Heber Invitational Tournament. However, McGee injured his knee prior to the final match and could not compete.
"He was expected to finish first," Ritter said.
With the WML wrestling campaign at an end, student/athletes will now focus their attention on basketball. The hoop season tips off in early January.