Two Phs Wrestlers Take Top Honors At State

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Payson's small contingent of six Class 4A state tournament wrestlers posted a combined 20-7 record that was the envy of big school teams with many more qualifiers.

The Rim wrestlers who represented PHS at state were Larry Wilbanks (5-0), Nathan Lee (5-0), Lee Perez (5-1), Porter Wilbanks (3-2), Brad Wilembrecht (2-2) and Donnie Engler (0-2). All earned state berths with top-three finishes in the Grand Canyon regional tournament Feb. 7 in Flagstaff.

Wrestling in the 160-pound slot, Larry Wilbanks chalked up a fall in the opening round then won back-to-back matches on technical falls of 19-2 and 16-1. In the semifinals, he posted a 14-5 major decision.

The championship bout, which he won 4-1, was the only match in which Larry was put to the test.

After a scoreless first period against Pinnacle's Brett Peterson, Larry jumped ahead 3-0. Later, he tacked on an insurance point before coasting to the triumph.

The state win capped his 51-0 senior season.

Lee, a junior, dominated the 171-pound class winning his first two matches by falls. Victories by a 20-3 technical fall and a 12-2 major decision improved his state record to 4-0.

In the championship finale, he racked up a 16-8 major decision over Tucson Catalina Foothills' Lance Conteno

Lee, a three-time state champ, wrapped up the season with a 50-0 record.

Perez opened pursuit of the 130-pound crown by winning a 24-15 decision, on a fall and by a 9-8 triumph.

In the fourth round, Perez locked horns with eventual weight division champion Kyle DeBerry of Tucson Sunnyside.

Although Perez gave the champ one of his best tests of the tournament, DeBerry won the decision 12-5.

In the consolation bracket, Perez rebounded from defeat to claim third-place with 3-1 and 3-2 consolation victories.

For the season, Perez finished with a 37-15 record.

Porter Wilbanks, a 103-pound freshman, won his opening pair of state matches 9-1 and 6-0. Pitted against Tucson Pueblo's David Isias in the third round, Porter led 4-0 late in the match.

Isias, however, executed a late take down and near fall to win a come-from-behind 5-4 decision.

Following the loss, Porter edged out a 2-1 consolation decision, but lost 13-4 in the battle for the bronze medal.

His 3-2 state record (42-10 overall) was good enough for fourth-place honors in a tough weight division in which the top six finishers had combined 225-54 season records.

Engler, a sophomore who finished third at the regional meet, lost 16-0 in the first round and then was eliminated by a pin.

The 4A state tournament -- which was the largest of all classifications 1A to 5A -- attracted 53 teams to Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

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