One step in Wilson Dome Saturday and it was all too obvious why Payson proudly sports the moniker "Small Town Wrestling Capital of America."
In the dome, jayvee and freshman wrestlers from around the state gathered to participate in a multi-meet that went on nonstop throughout the day on three separate mats.
It was a low-keyed match of underclassmen in which no scores or individual weight class standings were kept. But the event drew throngs of aspiring young wrestlers, proud parents, enthusiastic fans and dedicated coaches.
A lot of schools might not have wanted to host such a meet. After all, it took up an entire weekend day, earned no revenue, was not on the varsity level and required a significant commitment of time, manpower and resources.
To conduct the meet, Payson called upon its pool of resources that included former Longhorn head coach Dennis Pirch. All day, he officiated alongside a mat where new coach Dave LaMotte was reffing.
There are head varsity coaches who might not want to give up a weekend day to officiate on the freshman and junior varsity levels. LaMotte and Pirch are not among them. The remainder of the Horn wrestling staff, Don Heizer and Doug Eckhardt, also were on hand to lend their expertise where needed. Athletic Director Dave Bradley was in attendance to provide any assistance he could.
Although it wasn't a prestigious tournament, regional or state championship that would draw the state's attention to Payson, the multi-meet was all about what's right with small town high school sports.
Payson should be proud.
There are few former coaches, athletes or fans in northern Arizona who don't immediately recognize the name Tot Workman.
Football players and track athletes in the late '80s and early '90s remember him as the former Round Valley High School coach who seemed so often to go nose-to-nose against Payson.
As a former coach at Payson and Show Low, I've had more than my share of battles with Tot. In recent years, I've learned to respect him a great deal.
When former Payson High School basketball star Amberlyn White picked up All-American honors in Mesa a few years ago, Tot was on hand to award them.
Last spring in Mesa, Tot awarded former PHS wrestling star R.C. LaHaye an All-American title.
As a former National High School Coach of the Year, Tot has been involved in just about every prep sports activity imaginable.
After he left Round Valley, Tot said he'd like to move to Payson, but instead spent a stint at Arizona Boys Ranch before settling in as the Athletic Director at Queen Creek. There, he hired former PHS coach Curt LaBlanc to take over the football program.
Most recently, Tot was in the news for something other than football.
Seems he and his son Ty, a former Round Valley football and wrestling star turned 32-year-old concrete salesman, have taken up the cause of a man suffering from cancer.
In Queen Creek, Rob Penrod, 40, and a father of six, is battling a heroic war against the deadly disease.
Local residents, including the Workmans, organized several benefits to help the Penrods meet the expenses of their battle against cancer.
Because Rob Penrod is a competitive team roper, one of the benefits centered around a roping held Saturday at the Williams Field Equestrian Center.
As part of that event, Ty Workman pushed a wheelbarrow along a 50-mile course from his home through Queen Creek's Christmas Parade to the Equestrian Center.
Along the way, he hoped to collect $100 for every mile he pushed the wheelbarrow.
Tot, and longtime family friends Paul and Cheryl Reynolds, were on hand to push if Ty got tired.
No word as yet how much money was collected but when Tot sets his mind to do something, it's most often accomplished.