The mat melee for The Tim Van Horn Memorial championship team trophy turned into a furious scrap that would have made a junk-yard dog proud.
After five rounds of toe-to-toe battles and the consolation showdown, both Payson and Marana Mountain View entered Saturday's evening championships in Wilson Dome primed to make a run at the title.
Marana held a slim 347 to 319 lead over the Longhorns, but with five wrestlers in the individual weight class championships, Payson had a legitimate shot at overtaking Marana.
The dreams of keeping the Van Horn hardware in the Rim country vanished when most every Marana wrestler posted a victory in the finals.
Four of the five Longhorns in the gold-medal round recorded wins but those feats didn't earn Payson enough points to rally.
By outscoring Payson 23-21 in the championships, Marana scored a hard-fought 370-340 victory over the Horns.
Marana's road to the Van Horn win got off to a slow start Friday afternoon in front of several hundred wrestling fans.
At the conclusion of the first round, Tempe was first in the standings with 54 points. With 49, Marana was third. Payson trailed with 47.
At the conclusion of the second round, Marana (89) had overtaken Tempe (85). Payson (83) was clinging to third.
In round three, the Longhorns (135) took their only team lead of the two days.
Marana (107) fell to second and Tempe (123) was third.
With anxious fans teetering on the edge of their seats, round four ended with Marana (177) holding a five-point lead over the Horns (172).
Tempe's (139) hopes of winning its first Van Horn crown was fading fast.
Action in the fifth round was nip and tuck. At the conclusion, Marana (204) was clinging to a precarious one-point lead over Payson (203). Tempe (178) was a distant third.
The consolation championship round proved to the undoing of the Longhorns. After being within striking distance of the entire tournament, the Horns found themselves trailing by 28 points when the round ended.
Although Payson didn't win the tournament title it was hoping for, coaches agreed the fierce competition of the two days was just what the team needed to prepare for the rigors of the upcoming regional and state tournaments.
Tournament director Don Heizer said the event was an overwhelming success.
"I think it was a great experience for everyone," he said. "We have a lot of volunteers to thank for making it a great tournament."