In his rookie season as head coach of the tradition-rich Longhorn wrestling program, Rich Ormand has been selected the Class 4A Grand Canyon Region Coach of the Year.
Ormand was chosen in a voting of region coaches at the conclusion of the regular season.
During the 2003-04 campaign, the coach led the Longhorns to the Grand Canyon Region championship and a tie for fourth at the state tournament.
Winning the Grand Canyon title was a huge accomplishment in that the region is widely considered the toughest in the 4A conference. At the state championship tournament, three Grand Canyon teams placed among the top five finishers and another was seventh.
Ormand also paced the Horns to second-place finishes in both the Rim Country Duals and the Tim Van Horn Invitational.
Under his guidance, four PHS wrestlers -- Porter Wilbanks (103), Lee Perez (130), Larry Wilbanks (160) and Nathan Lee (171) -- were first team all-region wrestlers. Brad Wilembrecht (119) was second team and Donnie Engler (189) chosen honorable mention.
In assessing the Longhorns first year in the 4A conference, Ormand said it provided a solid foundation for life among the big schools.
"The wrestling team has many positive things to look back on and build for the future," he said. "The team did an outstanding job all season. They worked hard and really became a tight-knit group."
Although the season is at an end, Ormand continues to urge his wrestlers to hone their skills in voluntary after-school practices.
"The kids are already back in the (wrestling) room working hard to prepare for several national tournaments in the near future," he said.
Among those off-season competitions is the Rocky Mountain Nationals to be held next week in Denver, Colo.
"About 10 to 12 wrestlers will be competing," Ormand said.
In June, Ormand has plans to take about 15 athletes to a team camp at Western State University in Gunnison, Colo.
Also in June, the annual Longhorn Summer Wrestling camp for grades 7 though 12 will be held in Wilson Dome.
"Culminating the summer will be a trip to Virginia for the National High School Coaches Association National Championships," Ormand said.
The coach is also setting some team goals for next season.
"Our goal is to repeat as Grand Canyon champs and to win state next year," he said. "Those are lofty goals, yet if you do not set high goals, you will never show yourself what you are capable of achieving. That is why we work hard in the off season."
For more information on the off-season program for either elementary, middle school or high school students, call Ormand at (928) 474-8511.