Lee Pins Four Titles, Named Best At State

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The Payson High School wrestling team now sports its first four-time state champion.

Nate Lee earned the honor by defeating Flagstaff Sinagua's Braun Stapley 18-7 in the 171-pound state championship final match Saturday at Glendale Arena.

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Nate Lee became Payson High School's first four-time state champion Saturday evening at the 4A final tournament in Glendale Arena.

In addition to winning the title, Lee was voted the tournament's outstanding wrestler for the second consecutive year.

"He received something like 15 out of 20 votes (from the coaches)," assistant coach Don Heizer said.

With the win in Glendale, Lee wrapped up a 53-0 season. The last time he lost a high school match was midway through his freshman season.

His mat showings over the years, which are among the finest in the state, earned the teen a wrestling scholarship to Boise State University.

The weight class gold-medal points Lee earned helped lift the Longhorns to a Class 4A state fourth-place finish with 117 points. Payson trailed only state champion Tucson Sunnyside (235), runner-up Thunderbird (178) and bronze medalist Mingus (142).

For powerful Sunnyside, the championship was the school's 23rd state title in the past 26 years.

Mingus's showing was a bit of a surprise since the Marauders entered the state tournament as the Grand Canyon region runner-up behind GCR champion Payson.

About 60 4A schools were represented in the season-ending tournament.

For Payson, 145-pound David Cluff was the only wrestler other than Lee qualify for the championship round.

Cluff, however, lost a 10-9 decision to Tucson Sunnyside's Joey Crandall.

Cluff entered the tournament as the GCR weight class champion armed with a No. 1 seed. Crandall represented a No. 7 seed who was able to spring several tournament upsets during his march to the championship.

Also placing for Payson at state were Tyler Goodman (121), Lee Perez (137) and Donnie Engler (217). Goodman was fourth, Perez fifth and Engler sixth.

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