Wildcats, Horns Derailed In Single Evening

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The odds are not good for the nationally ranked University of Arizona basketball team losing to archrival Arizona State and the powerful Longhorn wrestling team dropping a pair of 3A dual matches all in one evening.

But that's exactly what happened Jan. 23.

In ASU's Wells Fargo Arena, the Sun Devils Arizona's longtime hoop whipping boy came up with the collegiate upset of the season by beating the Wildcats.

The same evening in Lakeside, the Longhorns dropped back-to-back matches to Blue Ridge 36-32 and Holbrook 43-32.

Payson's twin defeats came on the heels of the team's best showing of the season a second-place finish at the prestigious Tim Van Horn Memorial Tournament held days earlier.

The dual meet loss to East rival Blue Ridge drops the Horns (3-1 in the East) into second place in the regional standings behind unbeaten and state top-ranked Show Low.

In a crucial season-ending showdown, Payson and the Cougars clash tomorrow (Wednesday) in Wilson Dome. Start time is 6:30 p.m.

In the loss to Blue Ridge, the Horns suffered through shortcomings they've experienced all season the lighter weight divisions simply didn't produce points.

After taking a 16-0 lead on a meet-opening win by Blair River (189), a 16-4 decision from George Coleman (215) and heavyweight Ingo Beck's pin, the Longhorns lost five consecutive matches 103, 112, 119, 125 and 130. Because three of those defeats were by falls, Payson's 16-0 lead turned into a 26-16 deficient.

The Horn express engineered itself back on the winning track when 135-pound Larry Wilbanks won by a fall in the first period.

But the Horns quickly fell by the wayside in a 24-8 loss in the 140-pound clash.

Trailing 31-21, the Horns picked up 10 quick points when undefeated Zack Lee (145) won a major decision and younger brother Nathan Lee (152) won on a fall.

But the Longhorn rally was cut short by losses on pins in the 160 and 171 divisions.

Roadrunners on top

In falling to Holbrook, which moved from the East region to the North at the conclusion of last school year, the Horns' again came up short in the lighter weights, losing the 103, 112, 119 and 125 matches by falls.

The Horns' only wins by pins were posted by the dynamic duo of Zack Lee (145) and Nathan Lee (152). Coleman (189) won 12-1 Daniel Reisdorf emerged victorious 6-3, Wilbanks racked up a 13-1 decision and Newbold won by forfeit.

Probably the most dramatic moment during the White Mountain evening occurred in the meet-opening 189-pound clash.

After falling behind 9-1 in the first period and 16-9 at the end of the second, Bryce River rallied for a 17-16 victory.

By holding his Holbrook foe scoreless in the third stanza and racking up points on two near falls and a takedown, River was able to post one of the most thrilling come-from-behind victories witnessed in East mat wars.

Last season, when he wrestled in the 215-pound class, River turned in several victories in which he fell behind early then rallied for a pulsating victory.

Following tomorrow's dual meet against Show Low, the wrestling focus shifts to the regional championships Feb. 2 in Snowflake. Top four finishers in each weight division there qualify for the state championships to be held the following weekend in Phoenix.

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