'Best In The West' Battle In Wilson Dome Saturday


One of Arizona's most prestigious amateur wrestling matches is coming to the Rim country.

Sponsored by USA Wrestling, the Best in the West showdown -- which pits the best high school wrestlers in the state against one another -- will tip-off at 5 p.m. Saturday in Wilson dome.

To participate in the celebrated match, wrestlers must first be chosen in a voting of Arizona Wrestling Coaches Association members who scour the state looking for the most accomplished grapplers based on past high school performances.

At the match, the AWCA all-stars compete on one of two teams -- Red or Blue. The athletes, however, are not competing for their school since the match is not an Arizona Interscholastic Association-sponsored athletic event.

On the Red squad, are a pair of Payson athletes -- R.C. LaHaye and Caleb Miller -- who only weeks ago paced the Longhorn wrestling team to the Class 3A state championship.

As a two-time defending weight class state champion, the 135-pound LaHaye is slated to lock horns with Blue team counterpart Carlos Bedolla of Phoenix Carl Hayden.

Miller, a state third finisher last season, will compete in the 145-pound star clash against Duncan's Arcel Allsump.

In addition to having a pair of wrestlers selected to the all-star teams, Payson High also had coaches Dave LaMotte and Don Heizer chosen to co-coach the Red team along with Steve Combs of Apache Junction.

Duncan's Tom Lovett and Jeff Crothers of Pima will guide the Blue team.

PHS head wrestling coach Dennis Pirch is one of three tournament directors. The others are Bryan Smith of Moon Valley and Mingus Union's Tom Wokash.

The event will feature 18 matches contested on two mats.

Because it is a postseason all-star clash, the Red/Blue showdown will allow local fans the opportunity to view outstanding wrestlers from around the state they might not ordinarily come across during the course of a regular prep season.

Admission to Best in the West is $3 for adults and $2 for students.

Steak dinner
In addition to the all-star competition, fans will have the opportunity to meet and visit with the young wrestlers at a steak dinner set to begin soon after the 1 p.m. weigh-ins.

The dinner is sponsored by the Payson Wrestling Booster Club. The cost of the meal, to be held on the north side of the dome, is $5 per person. All wrestlers, coaches, parents and fans are welcome to the attend. The menu includes steak, potato, salad, beans and beverage. Tickets are available at the door.

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