Four Rim country athletes wrestled to their way to age/weight division championships at the USA Arizona State Freestyle Championships May 18 at Tempe Desert Vista High School.
Winning Arizona titles were Mark McCarty (Novice; 120 pounds), Nathan Lee (Cadet; 171), Zack Lee (Junior; 152) and George Coleman (Junior; 215).
Also representing the Rim country in the state finale were Gunner Goodman (second, Bantam; 55), Tyler Goodman (fourth, Schoolboy; 95), Porter Wilbanks (fourth, Schoolboy; 105), Zach Rogers (sixth, Schoolboy; 110), Kevin Allen (fourth, Cadet; 215), and Larry Wilbanks (third, Junior; 140).
Payson High School coach Dave LaMotte, who accompanied the wrestlers to Tempe, praised the performances of the athletes.
"It was a great weekend," he said. "We took 10 guys and they all medaled."
According to LaMotte, one of the highlights of the tournament was Zack Lee's 4-0 triumph over a Marcos de Niza wrestler who had beaten him two weeks earlier in the USA Arizona Greco-Roman championships.
"Zack wrestled really well," the coach said. "He avenged that loss to the Marcos kid."
As an undefeated (48-0) state champion last high school season, Lee rarely suffered the agony of defeat.
Zack's younger brother, Nate, also turned in a stellar performance winning three consecutive matches.
McCarty, a sixth-grader at Rim Country Middle School, finished with a 4-0 tournament record. Coleman, who will be a senior at PHS next fall, was also 4-0.
With the USA Arizona Wrestling season at an end, the local grapplers turn their attention to the Grand Canyon State Games; a freestyle summer training camp; a wrestling scrimmage against two out-of-state teams; and the AAU Grand Nationals in Shreveport, La.
First up is a scrimmage at 5 p.m. June 2 in the dome wrestling room against teams from Bayfield, Colo. and Aztec, N.M.
Fans are welcome to attend the scrimmage free of charge.
Next on the summer agenda are practice sessions from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. June 3, 5 and 7 in the Wilson wrestling room. The sessions are free to all local youth.
Wrestlers who participate in the practices will have the opportunity to showcase their newfound skills in the GC games June 8 in Wilson Dome. Registration and weigh-ins will take place from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The fee is $25, which includes a GC souvenir T-shirt. After a full day of competition, medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in each age/weight division.
From June 9 to 13, LaMotte and his staff will host a freestyle summer training camp open to wrestlers 12 to 18-years-of-age.
LaMotte anticipates that youngsters from around the state will also attend the camp. Locals may participate free of charge.
Athletes who excel in the summer program will be invited to compete in the AAU Grand National Tournament June 19 to 22. The fray is open to wrestlers in grades 8 through 12.
For those who travel with the team to Shreveport, the expenses will be paid by the Payson Wrestling Club.
After putting together the extensive off-season program, LaMotte issued an invitation for local youths to participate.
Call LaMotte at 474-2233 for more information on the summer wrestling offerings.