Wrestling Usa Taps Lahaye As Honorable Mention

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Accolades continue to pour in for former Payson High School wrestling star R.C. LaHaye.

The most recent to be bestowed was Honorable Mention High School All-American plaudits from Wrestling USA Magazine. Those honors arrived only one month after being named a National High School Athletic Coaches Association All-American.

LaHaye's selection to the USA Wrestling team marks only the fourth time a Payson High School athlete has received such prestigious honors.

Others who have earned the award include Scott Clifford (1979), Tyler Robertson (1996) and Christopher Pirch (1998).

In tapping the former Longhorn standout to the team, Wrestling USA National Editor Dan Fickel wrote, "His selection, along with the other All-Americans from across the country, were made after nominations from coaches, sportswriters and Wrestling USA state editors were screened ... his record and citizenship make him a true Honorable Mention All-American."

After being informed of the award by former PHS coach Dennis Pirch, LaHaye said he felt privileged to be named to the team by magazine officials .

"This will be the final (honor) of my high school career," he said.

LaHaye has accepted a scholarship to Western State University in Gunnison, Colo., where he hopes to wrestle in either the 141-pound or 149-pound weight class. At the school, he will major in business administration.

During LaHaye's four-year varsity career at PHS, he helped the Longhorns earn three consecutive state championships (1998, 1999 and 2000). Last winter, he led the team to a state runner-up finish by winning his third consecutive weight class 3A title.

Although LaHaye said he remains disappointed he didn't win a state championship as a freshman, his rookie year was an impressive one.

Dropping weight to 112-pounds, the untested 14-year-old freshman compiled a 48-6 record competing against opponents older and more seasoned than he.

"But my goal was to win four (state championships)," he said.

That season, he finished fourth in the state.

He wrapped up his impressive career at Payson High with a 180-9 record.

LaHaye, who holds the state winning streak record of 114 matches, also was a state freestyle champion for six consecutive years.

In the classroom, he was almost as successful as he was on the mat, posting a 3.3 grade point average.

Since he first took up wrestling early in elementary school, LaHaye has spent the summer months competing in amateur freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments.

But this year, he decided to take a break from competition and devote most of his time to weight training and conditioning.

"I'm lifting (weights) four times a week," he said.

He hopes the dedication to exhaustive training will bode well for him when he reports to Western in August eager to continue his mat career on the collegiate level.

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