Payson High School wrestlers emerged from last week's Rim Country Duals with a perfect 7-0 record.
The team racked up the following scores against the competing schools:
- 74-6 vs. Phoenix Christian
- 72-12 vs. Mesa Skyline
- 72-12 vs. Canyon State Academy
- 64-9 vs. Queen Creek
- 67-6 vs. Glendale Ironwood
- 54-27 vs. San Manuel
- 77-0 vs. Exhibition/Tournament team (unofficial win)
The wrestlers who finished in the top four of each weight class competed in a mini tournament as well. Payson boys took the following places in the various weight classes: Tayler Byers, first, 103 lbs.; Ryan Cox, third, 112 lbs.; Jordan Burcher, second, 119 lbs.; Tyler Goodman, first, 125 lbs.; Dan McGee, first, 130 lbs.; Brandon Chovanec, first, 135 lbs.; Porter Wilbanks, first, 140 lbs.; Lee Perez, first, 145 lbs.; David Cluff, first, 152 lbs.; Nick Goodman, fourth, 160 lbs.; Troy Jenkins, fourth, 171 lbs.; Steele Armstrong, first, 189 lbs.; Bryan Burke, fourth, 215 lbs.; and Oscar Chavez, first, 275 lbs.
"There were many good things going on with our wrestling," said coach Rich Ormand. "This week we were doing a better job of chain wrestling, and keeping the pressure on. We still need to do a better job of moving our feet, and setting up our takedowns overall, but I am pleased with the team's progression over the previous week."
He said the BAGUBA (Brutally Aggressive Grappler Uninhibited By Adversity) was hard to select. "But after looking at all the possibilities, I decided to choose Ryan Cox, at 112 lbs., and Oscar Chavez, at 275 lbs.," Ormand said. "I chose Ryan because entering the mini tournament on Saturday afternoon, he had a tournament record of 3 wins and 4 losses. However, in the mini tournament he turned it on and wound up taking third place in his weight division. In the third place match, he pinned his Ironwood opponent in 1:51, whom he lost to by a pin in the dual meet. This is what a BAGUBA is all about, facing an opponent you lost to before, and meeting him head on, and persevering for the win! I chose Oscar because he was the aggressor in each of his matches. He went 6-0 for the weekend, and never was scored on. How often is it that you see a heavyweight get a takedown with a single leg in every match? We were unsure how he would perform as this was his first time competing -- ever -- and are pleasantly surprised by his aggressiveness. There were several other deserving kids, but these two stood out in my mind."
Other wrestlers drawing praise from Ormand include two freshmen who won individual weight class championships: Tayler Byers, who competes in the 103-pound class and Steele Armstrong, who wrestles at 189 pounds.
"This was a good boost to their confidence (as we are) entering the tougher part of our schedule after Christmas," Ormand said. "We also had one sophomore that won it. Dan McGee stepped up his level this weekend."
At 125 pounds, Tyler Goodman had the most falls with pins in 8 out of 9 matches and improved to 20-2 for the season. At 135 pounds, Brandon Chovanec defeated Tod Workman of Queen Creek 12-5. Workman was a 3A state runner-up last season. At 140 pounds, Porter Wilbanks extended his unbeaten streak to 18-0 for the season. Wrestling at 147 pounds, Lee Perez improved to 14-2 on the season, while having to weigh in at an exact 138 pounds to stay eligible for a lower weight class after Christmas. David Cluff improved to 20-2 and won his weight class at 152 pounds.
Up next for the Longhorns is the multi-meet at Marana Mountain View High School Jan. 4.
"We will wrestle the currently top-three ranked teams from 5A Division Two," Ormand said.
These top teams are No.1 ranked Sunnyside; No. 2 ranked Marana Mountain View; and No. 3 Ranked Yuma Kofa
"This will be a good test of how much perseverance our kids have while having to compete against some of the best teams in the state this year from the 5A ranks," Ormand said.
Two days later the team travels to Glendale to compete in the Peoria Tournament of Champions at Raymond S. Kellis High School.
"It is shaping up to be the toughest tournament in the state this year," Ormand said. "Several tough out-of-state teams will be there, including El Modino, Calif.; Cimmeron, Nev., three-time defending Nevada state champions; Rio Rancho, N.M., four-time defending New Mexico state champions; Desert Vista, ranked No. 1 in 5A Division 1; Sunnyside, ranked No.1 in 5A Division 2; and many other ranked teams from the 4A and 5A divisions."
Ormand said Holbrook is the only other small school, besides Payson, competing in the tournament, which will have a total of 32 teams that will be challenging for top honors.