Wrestlers Thrill Fans With Skills

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Winning two of three matches against East region rivals might not have been the highlight of a Dec. 7 multi-meet in Wilson dome.

Rather, the performances of two freshmen and a senior caught fans' attention.

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Payson High School freshman Steel Armstrong pinned Fernando Campos of Blue Ridge during the third period in the Horns' 58-16 win Dec. 7 over the Yellow Jackets.

Nick Goodman, Steel Armstrong and Troy Jenkins were awarded BAGUBA (Brutally Aggressive Grapplers Uninhibited by Adversity) for their efforts against Blue Ridge, Snowflake and Show Low.

Jenkins, a senior, and Armstrong, a freshman, received the prestigious awards for winning their three matches by pins.

Goodman, a freshman, garnered his citation for moving up two weight classes, to 160-pounds, then defeating both Blue Ridge and Snowflake opponents.

Pitted against Show Low's A. J. Bayles -- who was fresh off winning the Peak's Invitational in Flagstaff -- Goodman gave the Cougar star all he could handle before falling 10-5. Bayles had to score eight points in the third period to survive a monumental upset.

"Nick's attitude about competing was inspirational," coach Rich Ormand said. "He did not care who his opponents were, and ended up beating two better wrestlers just because he refused to be intimidated."

As a team, the Horns defeated Blue Ridge, 58-16 and Snowflake 55-21, but lost to Show Low 36-33.

The loss to the archrival Cougars was unsettling for Ormand.

"It was frustrating because our kids are capable of wrestling at a higher level than they did," he said. "We knew exactly what they were going to do as far as technique is concerned and still we got caught up in their junk moves too often."

In addition to falling to cat ploys, the Horns might also attribute the defeat to 18 points given up on three weight class forfeits.

The Horns forfeited at 112, 145 and 275 pounds.

"We did give up three forfeits, yet I believe we were the better team and should have beaten them with the kids we had in the lineup," Ormand said. "It just didn't work out in the end score."

About the vacancy at 112, Ormand said, "We have three kids there. One is injured, one does not have the mandatory nine practices to compete and the third cannot wrestle until the two pound growth allowance (is met)."

In the 145-pound slot, the Horns normally have hard-nosed sophomore Mark McCarty to call upon.

"He re-injured his knee and we decided to hold him out," Ormand said.

McCarty hurt the knee while defeating Blue Ridge's Steve Parkinson 8-4 in the afternoon's opening match.

Ormand had the option of using senior Lee Perez in the 145-pound slot, but decided to hold him out also because of an injury.

"He suffered a severe hip bruise in practice earlier in the week," Ormand said.

Finding a heavyweight to replace sophomore Kyle Allen is a priority of Ormand and his staff.

"We did get another heavyweight, but he has to get in the mandatory nine practices before he can compete," Ormand said. "Kyle had to quit the team due to family issues."

As tough as the loss to Show Low was to overcome, Ormand told the team it might have yielded some unexpected results.

"It was just a bump in the road to state," he said. "A bump we can and will learn from.

"We learned just what we need to work on, such as finishing our takedowns and forward pressure on the bottom."

The Horns return to action Dec. 14 in Wilson dome against Holbrook and Marana Mountain View. The three-way match begins at 4 p.m.

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