Lahaye Considers Collegiate Wrestling Career

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Payson's loss will be some college's gain.

Which college or university that will be remains uncertain in the mind of Payson High School senior R.C. LaHaye.

The three-time state wrestling champion collegiate options remain open, but he's leaning toward either Adams State, Western State or Virginia Military Institute.

All three schools as well as several others have shown interest in acquiring the wrestling services of LaHaye who recently capped his four-year prep career by winning the Class 3A 140-pound Arizona State championship.

In addition to being a three-time state title holder, LaHaye holds the state mark for most wins in a career with 179.

His varsity stint began as a freshman when he was a slight 112-pounder who finished as the state bronze medalist while battling older and more seasoned athletes.

His prep winning streak of 114 consecutive matches places him third in the state record book behind Antelope's Aaron Simpson (121) and Wayne McMinn of Apache Junction (118).

The last time LaHaye lost a high school match was early in his sophomore year (1998) to a Santa Cruz athlete who outpointed him.

During his senior year, the hard chargin' Longhorn finished with an unblemished 43-0 mark.

One his sternest tests during the past campaign occurred in mid-January at the Tim Van Horn Memorial Tournament. There, he advanced to the championship round where he was paired against one of Class 5A's best 140-pounders Chris Smith of Gilbert Highland. By whipping Smith 11-4, LaHaye stamped himself Arizona's best in his weight division.

The key to the stunning win, LaHaye said, was "putting pressure on him the whole match."

LaHaye's regular season prep career is at an end, but he faces two more opportunities to show his mat wares in all-star competition.

He and fellow Payson High state champions Caleb Miller and Rocky Beery will compete in the Arizona Coaches Association All-Star clash March 2 at Cactus High School. LaHaye says he has not been told who his all-star opponent will be but expects it to be either a Tucson Canyon del Oro opponent or another from Mingus Union High School

Both are state champs who LaHaye has previously beaten.

Following the ACA match, LaHaye and Miller will travel to Delaware to compete in the Senior Nationals.

The tournament pits state champions from around the country against one another in a five-day free-for-all.

"I'm looking forward to that one," LaHaye said.

Longhorn coach Dennis Pirch says he has few doubts that LaHaye can succeed in the celestial clashes and on the collegiate level.

The youngster's tenacity on and off the mat is what sets him apart from most, Pirch said.

While wrestling is his forte, the Payson teen was also an award-winning football player and is very capable academically as evidenced by his 3.4 grade point average. In college, he plans on majoring in business.

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