Several changes are in store for members of the Longhorn wrestling team at the 2004 Arizona State Wrestling Tournament.
As a first-year member of the Class 4A conference, Payson will now compete over the course of three days rather than two as the Horns did when they were in 3A.
The Longhorns will be battling the likes of Tucson Sunnyside, Mingus, Tempe, Saguaro, Moon Valley and Coconino for state honors. In past years, the Horns have had to out-wrestle 3A Show Low, Coolidge and Rio Rico for state laurels.
Another change that could have huge consequences for Payson is that only three weight-class qualifiers from the Grand Canyon regional tournament will earn berths to state. In the 3A conference, four qualifiers are eligible for state.
As in the past, the tournament will continue to be held in Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.
On hand at the tournament will be a games committee member familiar to Rim country sports fans.
Former Payson High School principal, athletic director and baseball coach Tom Meck, now retired, is the tournament coordinator.
Former Show Low football and wrestling coach Digger O'Dell also will be on hand. During his stint with the Cougars, O'Dell's teams waged some memorable prep wars against the Longhorns.
The 4A tournament begins at 3 p.m. Feb. 12 on 12 mats. Action continues until 5 p.m.
Wrestling resumes at 8 a.m. Friday on six mats and continues until 3 p.m. A second session for 4A and 5A schools will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
On Saturday, 4A wrestling resumes at 8 a.m. and continues until 11 a.m.
Consolation finals for third through six places begin at 3 p.m. The championship finals, which will be held on one mat for each of the five conferences will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Prior to the gold-medal round, a Grand March of all championship participants will highlight the evening.
Following the championship round, officials will present awards to the top six finishers in each weight class of each conference. Outstanding wrestler awards will also be awarded.