After being forced to forfeit a trio of weight class battles in a Dec. 7 three-way meet, the Longhorn wrestling team has returned to near full strength.
The only weight class the Horns will forfeit during the Dec. 16-17 Rim Country Duals will be heavyweight, or 275 pounds.
"Our current kid there will not have the (Arizona Interscholastic Association) mandatory nine practices in by then," coach Rich Ormand said.
When the season began, sophomore Kyle Allen was expected to hold down the heavyweight slot.
"Kyle had to quit the team due to family issues," Ormand said.
The coach has found replacements in the other two weight divisions the Horns forfeited in the three-way match, the 112-pound and 145-pound slots.
Teams that have indicated they will participate in the annual duals meet include Ironwood, Queen Creek, Canyon State Academy, Skyline, Phoenix Christian, San Manuel and Payson.
Ormand expects Queen Creek, Ironwood Skyline and San Manuel to field several solid wrestlers.
"They traditionally have tough kids in their lineup," he said.
The coach also projects the tournament will serve as a proving ground for his core of fledgling wrestlers.
"This will be a good tournament for our younger wrestlers to gain experience before we head to the tougher part of our schedule starting with a multiple meet Jan. 4 at Marana Mountain View," he said.
Rim Country Duals competition tips off at 3 p.m. Dec. 16, with round robin team battles expected to continue until about 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, team clashes begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude about 12:30 p.m. with the crowning of the overall champion and runner-up.
At approximately 1:30 p.m., an individual mini-tournament will feature the top four individuals in each weight class -- based on their performances in the duals -- against one another.
Following the mini-tournament, individual champions will be crowned.
There is no admission and the wrestlerettes will operate a concession stand.
Tournament Director Don Heizer is hoping for a good turnout of fans.
"We want everyone to come out and support the wrestling program," he said.
Down the road
At the Marana Mountain View multi-meet and the Peoria Invitational, Jan 6-7, Payson will lock horns with some of the finest big school teams in the state.
"We will go head to head (at Marana) with the No. 1 Class 5A Division II team (Tucson Sunnyside), the No. 2 team (Marana Mountain View) and the No. 8 Class 5A Division I team (Yuma Kofa)," Ormand said. "Two days later, we are wrestling in arguably the toughest tournament in the state -- the Peoria Invitational."
It is expected that 32 teams will compete in the tournament.