Coaches Tap Lee, Coleman, Mccarty All-Stars


A trio of Payson High School seniors have attained the pinnacle of prep wrestling success.

Zach Lee, George Coleman and Matt McCarty will participate in the North vs. South All-Star match when it is contested at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22 at Casa Grande High School.

The threesome, and the all-star wrestlers, were chosen Sunday in a voting of Arizona Wrestling Coaches Association members.

A fourth Longhorn wrestler, Bryce River, was selected as an alternate and will participate if an athlete in the 189-pound class drops out of the celestial competition.

Only seniors are eligible to participate in the prestigious postseason all-star match.

The trio of PHS wrestlers voted all-stars recently wrapped up their prep careers by winning Class 3A Arizona State weight division championships.

During the state tournament Feb. 14 and 15 at Phoenix Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Lee dominated the 152-pound competition chalking up a 4-0 record. Three of his victories were on falls and the other, in the championship round, was a technical fall.

Lee's victory was his second consecutive state title. As a sophomore at state, he finished second and as a freshman, he was fourth.

During his career at Payson High School, Lee compiled a 151-10 record and is currently on a 95-match winning streak. This season, he was 48-0.

Coleman, competing in the 215-pound class, was 43-4 this season and the Rim Country Duals champion. He also wrestled his way to second-place finishes at the Mesa Westwood Kickoff Classic, the Mingus Invitational and the Tim Van Horn Memorial.

At the state tournament, he chalked up four consecutive pins to claim the crown. Last season, he was second in the state and as a sophomore was fifth.

McCarty, a stalwart in the 140-pound class all season, finished second in the state tournament. Compiling a 43-5 record this season, he was the East region weight division champion. Last season, he was fifth at state and first in the region.

In tournaments this season, McCarty was first at the Rim Country Duals and Tim Van Horn Memorial. At Mesa and Mingus, he was weight class runner-up.

If River reaches the all-star clash, he will do so as a state third-place finisher in the 189-pound division. During the tournament, he compiled a 5-1 record and had four wins by pins.

This season, he put together an 35-5 record despite wrestling the last month of the campaign with an injury to his sternum. River was the weight class champion at the Rim Country Duals and finished second at the Mesa Westwood tournament. At the Mingus tournament, he was third.

Coach Dave LaMotte praised the PHS all-stars as hard-working teenagers who were deserving of the honors.

"All of them, except (Coleman), came up in our system from elementary and middle school," LaMotte said.

Coleman enrolled at PHS as a sophomore when his family moved from to Payson from Washington.

More on state

In addition to the standout performances from the Payson High seniors, the Horns received championship showings from Larry Wilbanks (160) and Nate Lee (171).

Wilbanks finished 4-0 in the tournament, winning three of his matches by pins. In the championship round, he decisioned his Winslow opponent 8-2. Wilbanks finished the year with a 43-1 mark.

Nate Lee, a sophomore, is on target to become Payson High's first four-time state champion. After winning a state title as a freshman, he finished his sophomore campaign with a 48-0 record and finished first in all five tournaments the Longhorns competed in this season. At state, he reached the championship bout with three wins by falls. Paired against Fountain Hills' unbeaten (48-0) John Grulson in the gold-medal round, he won a hard fought 8-3 decision.

Also in the state tournament, Brad Wilembrecht (112) captured fifth, finishing with a 4-2 record.

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