More than 30 eager youngsters spent the past three days learning wrestling skills from four top-notch coaches.
Longhorn wrestling coach Dave LaMotte, assistant coach and former Payson High standout Doug Eckhardt, former NCAA All-American Joe Romero and Sunkist Kids team star Jeff Funicello played host to the aspiring grapplers at the Longhorn wrestling camp held in Wilson Dome.
During the camp, Romero taught freestyle wrestling skills, Funicello instructed Greco-Roman technique and LaMotte and Eckhardt focused on folkstyle high school techniques.
The camp ran May 29, 30 and 31 from 9 a.m. until noon.
When the youngsters, some as young as 7 years, weren't being put through their paces by the coaches, their favorite pastime was to challenge the rope climb to the ceiling of the wrestling room.
"It's fun" said camper Gunner Goodman, who scampered up the rope with little effort.
The young grapplers will have the opportunity to put their new skills to the test June 2 in the Grand Canyon Games to be held in Wilson Dome.
Another fond memory, he said, is of a 2000 regular season win over Show Low.
"We needed to win that game to go to state and we were down 7-6 in the top of the 7th (inning)," Garduno said.
With two outs, the former Payson star swatted a booming home run out of Cougar Park that deadknotted the contest. The circuit blast eventually proved to be the catalyst for the Horns come-from-behind 8-7 victory.
"That was sweet," he said.
In addition to being selected an all-state player, Garduno has been chosen an All-East region first-time member and will play in Arizona Baseball Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star game. The clash begins at 7 p.m. Saturday evening on the campus of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
As a North team member, Garduno and other all-stars prepped in a day-long practice session Saturday at Blue Ridge High School.
With most all of post-season selections complete, Garduno is now looking forward to beginning his collegiate career.
"I'll be going to Scottsdale (Community College) and I'll definitely play baseball. Practice starts next week," he said.
In the ABCA all-state voting, coaches apparently thought the East region experienced a down year. Only Show Low pitcher Doug Mathis was named to the All-State first team.
State champion Fountain Hills the team that eliminated Payson from the state tournament with a 10-0 the second round victory dominated the first team with three athletes chosen. Also, FH coach Mike Briguglio was named the state's coach of the year.
East region players chosen second team along with Garduno were Toby Elkins (Inf., Blue Ridge), Coly Herrick (Inf., Show Low), Chase Miller (Inf., Round Valley) and Adam Moro (Of., Blue Ridge).