The homestanding Payson Longhorns weren't about to play the role of gracious hosts in the Rim Country Wrestling Duals Tournament.
Throughout the two-day affair, the Horns turned in a "rock-'em, sock-'em" mat performance that sent the field of 11 visiting teams reeling in oblivion.
On their way to a 6-0 dual meet record and the tournament championship, Payson had seven wrestlers win weight class championships. Of those, two wrestlers -- Matt McCarty (140) and Zack Lee (152) -- won most valuable wrestler awards. McCarty won for the lighter weights and Zack from the 152- to 275-pound divisions. Zack also received the award for the fastest pin of the tournament (five seconds).
Among the most impressive efforts of the tournament were those turned in by Blair River (189) and George Coleman (215). Both finished 8-0 winning all of their matches by pins.
For the season, River is now 16-1 and Coleman is 17-1.
Brad Wilembrecht (112), Porter Wilbanks (160) and Nate Lee (171) also wrestled their way to tournament gold medals by posting 8-0 records.
For Wilembrecht, the title represented the triumph of courage over pain. In a semifinal match Saturday, Wilembrecht suffered an injury in which a front tooth was knocked loose to near the roof of his mouth. The match was stopped while coaches and trainers tended to the injury. Trainers pulled the tooth back into place and outfitted the teenager with a mouthpiece. The match continued with Wilembrecht wrestling in obvious discomfort. Refusing to allow the injury to hamper his mat effort, he went on to win the match and -- just hours later -- the weight division championship by a pin.
"That was gutsy, he had a great tournament," coach Dave LaMotte said.
Other Longhorn wrestlers who placed included Tyler Goodman (103; second), David Cluff (119; fourth), Shane Hounshell (135; third), Sammy Perez (Heavyweight; fourth).
Lee Perez (130) turned in a 6-2 record, but did not place because both losses were absorbed in the opening day pool rounds. Freshman Andy Sanders (145) compiled a 2-4 slate.
Friday, the teams battled in two pools of six squads each.
Payson dominated its pool whipping Pusch Ridge 84-0, Phoenix North 69-12, Apache Junction 72-12 and Skyline 61-18.
In the win over Pusch Ridge, all PHS wrestlers won by falls except two victories which came on forfeits.
Saturday, the results of the dual meets were used to cross seed the top two teams from each pool into semifinal rounds of championship play.
Payson advanced to the final round by whipping Ironwood 47-25.
In the finale, the Horns staked claim to the tournament gold by out-pointing Desert Mountain 52-24.
The Longhorns will take a break from practice before returning to full scale workouts at 9 a.m. Dec. 27. Those sessions will be geared towards preparing the Horns for participation in the 12-team Mingus Invitational Jan. 3-4.
LaMotte anticipates the competition in Mingus will be fierce.
"That's a great tournament," he said. "Most of the schools will be 4A and 5A."