A duo of Rim Country Middle School's hard-nosed wrestlers capped undefeated seasons with White Mountain League weight class championships.
Taylor Byers (83) and Nick Goodman (142) both won the prestigious league titles at the WML championship finals Dec. 11 in Whiteriver.
In the championship weight class finales, Byers defeated a Heber Mogollon wrestler 4-0 for the crown. Goodman won the match by decision against his St. Johns opponent 15-2. For the two eighth-graders, the championships were their second WML crowns.
Byers won his first as a sixth-grader but was not able to repeat last season. Goodman won back-to-back crowns as a seventh- and eighth-grader.
The teens credited the coaching of Doug Eckhardt and Homer Sanders as reasons for their wins. The pair also thanked their parents for supporting them in their athletic endeavors and said they were looking forward to continuing their wrestling careers in high school next season.
Also for RCMS at the WML finals, seventh-grader Ben Sandoval finished as runner-up in the 88-pound division. After advancing to the gold-medal final, Sandoval dropped a heart-breaking 8-6 decision to his Blue Ridge opponent.
In the heavyweight division, Steel Armstrong had to settle for second place after losing the championship match by a single point in overtime. The winning point was awarded to Armstrong's opponent after the match official made the controversial decision: the RCMS wrestler was stalling.
"He was just sick, couldn't get his wind," Sanders said.
Also for the Mavericks, newcomer Bryan Burke, an eighth-grader, compiled a 6-1 record and finished third in the 167-pound division.
"It was my first season wrestling," he said.
As a team, the Mavericks finished fifth overall behind WML champion St. Johns runner-up Show Low and bronze medalist Blue Ridge.
Sanders thanked parents for helping pay for the team's motel rooms Friday evening.
"They really stepped up to help us," he said. "We appreciate what they did."
Sanders also thanked the individual wrestlers for their dedication and commitment throughout the season.
"They put in a lot of hard work. It was good to see them do well," he said.
Next up for the young wrestlers is the Arizona State Junior High/Middle school championships Jan. 28 and 29 in Tempe.
Because RCMS sponsors the team in White Mountain League competition only, the wrestlers will enter the state showdown only loosely affiliated with the school.