Payson teenager Nathan Lee wrestled his way to a United States weight-class championship at the National High School Open Wrestling Championships Tournament July 1 through 3 in Norfolk, Va.
Competing in the ninth-grade, 170-pound division, he finished the prestigious tournament with a 5-0 record.
Lee, who will be a sophomore at Payson High next school year, opened the tournament by pinning a Minnesota opponent.
In the second round, he recorded a 9-2 victory over a Wisconsin foe. Later, he advanced to the final four by pinning an Ohio grappler.
In the semifinals, he recorded a 14-4 major decision over a Pennsylvania representative.
Lee nailed down the crown with a 10-2 major division thumping of a Minnesota wrestler.
Payson High School coach Dave LaMotte, who escorted Lee to the championships, said the youngster "turned in a fantastic tournament. He was really focused and proved himself to be the best ninth-grader in the country."
Last season, Lee won the Class 3A 152-pound state championship with a 45-3 record.
During the summer months, he's captured the USA Wrestling Arizona State Freestyle and Greco-Roman championships in the Cadet (15- to 16-year-old) division. Also this summer, he won the Rocky Mountain Championship.
Winning the national title, however, was his greatest accomplishment, LaMotte said.
Payson's other representative in the national championships was Nathan's older brother, Zack.
Competing in the 10th through 12th grade, 145-pound division, Zack finished with a 2-2 record.
He opened with a 9-6 triumph over an Illinois wrestler, but in the second round lost 7-5 in overtime to an Idaho teen. The loss dropped him into the consolation bracket where he recovered to whip a Georgia representative 8-6.
In the consolation championships, a Minnesota wrestler edged Zack 5-4.
With the summer wrestling season at an end, the Lee brothers and their fellow Payson High wrestlers will take a break from competition. They return to action in November to prepare for the 2002-03 prep season.