Wrestlers To Celebrate Season With Potluck

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Remember BAGUBA?

It's back.

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The Longhorn wrestlers grappled their way to the Grand Canyon Region championship and a tie for fourth at state.

The once highly popular Longhorn wrestling award --n acronym for Brutally Aggressive Grappler Uninhibited By Adversity -- was reinstated at the onset of the wrestling season.

First-year Payson High School Coach Rich Ormand said he and assistant coach David Daniels, along with some prompting from wrestlers who heard tales about the award, made the decision to reinstate it.

Daniels was a member of the PHS wrestling teams in the early 1990s when the award was a big part of the mat program then headed by Coach Dennis Pirch.

The new version of BAGUBA and a bevy of other awards -- including varsity letters and most valuable wrestler and most inspirational wrestler trophies --ill be doled out to PHS grapplers at the traditional season-ending potluck banquet and ceremony, set to begin at 5:30 p.m. March 28 in the Payson High School cafeteria.

"Everyone is welcome, parents, fans and supporters," Ormand said.

Since the event is a potluck meal, Ormand is asking all who attend to bring a covered dish.

"Eating utensils, desserts and drinks will be furnished," the coach said.

At the festivities, the team will celebrate a season in which the Longhorns won both the Grand Canyon region regular season and tournament championships. The Horns went on to tie for fourth in the 4A state tournament.

The team also wrestled to second place finishes in both the Rim Country Duals and the Tim Van Horn Invitational.

A foursome of wrestlers -- Porter Wilbanks (103), Lee Perez (130), Larry Wilbanks (160) and Nathan Lee (171) won first-team all-region honors. Brad Wilembrecht (119) was second team and Donnie Engler (189) named honorable mention.

Both Larry Wilbanks (51-0) and Lee (50-0) finished the season undefeated and won weight division state championships

As a senior, Wilbanks advanced to the Arizona Coaches Association Red vs. Blue All-Star match held in Casa Grande. There, Wilbanks stunned the prep wrestling scene by defeating Marcos de Niza wrestling sensation and Arizona State University-bound Alex Pavlenko.

In whipping the highly favored Tempe star 3-1, Wilbanks scored a two-point take down in the final few seconds to break a 1-1 dead knot.

With the win, Wilbanks earned a berth in the prestigious Senior National High School championship tournament to be held next month in Cleveland, Ohio.

Lee, a junior, will have to wait until next season for a crack at the ACA and Senior National clashes. As a three-time state champion, he is on track to become Payson High School's first four-time state title winner.

In addition to celebrating the past accomplishments of the wrestlers at the banquet, Ormand is expected to lay the groundwork for the offseason program. Among those offerings will be participation in the Rocky Mountain Nationals to be held in Denver, Colo. Ormand anticipates about 10 to 12 wrestlers will participate. In June, the coach will take about 15 athletes to a team camp at Western State University in Gunnison, Colo.

Also on the June agenda is the annual Longhorn Wrestling camp for youngsters in grades 7 through 12.

For more information on the banquet or the summer program, call Ormand at (928) 474-8511.

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