Olympic-Style Atmosphere Attracts Amateurs To Grand Canyon Games

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The clock is winding down on the time amateur athletes have to prepare for the 2005 Grand Canyon State Winter Games.

Among the opening events in Arizona's multi-sport Olympic festival is one that is traditionally popular in the Rim country -- wrestling.

Mat action is Feb. 19 at Apache Junction High School.

Winter games competition will continue most every weekend until April 22-24 when adult team baseball is played.

Most all events in a variety of more than 30 sports will be held at various venues in the Valley.

Skiing, snowboarding and all Alpine events are Feb. 26-27 at Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff.

For wrestling, entrants will be placed in one of eight age and experience divisions ranging from Bantam (grades one and two) to Veteran (35-years-plus). Wrestlers also will compete in weight classes similar to those used in high school matches. Folk-style, or high school, rules will be used.

The entry fee is $30 per athlete.

Early registration may be completed by picking up an entry book at the Payson 76/Circle K stores, the Arizona Public Service office or at Bashas' market.

Match day registrations also will be accepted from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m in the AJHS gymnasium.

The No. 1 finisher in each division will receive free entry into the Tucson summer Grand Canyon State Games June 3 to 5.

The top finishers in each division of the Tucson competition will be awarded free entry into the Arizona State summer games June 23 to 26.

The division champion's free entry into the Tucson competition and the summer games applies to all sports in the winter games.

For more information on wrestling, call Vidal Mejia at (480) 890-1584.

More sports

With several outstanding archers living in the Rim country, including Payson High School student Margaret Hargett and local dentist Harold Rush, the Grand Canyon archery competition also could be a popular draw.

The 3-D events are March 12-13 at Usery Mountain Archery Range.

Target archery competition is March 19 at the Papago Park Archery Range.

In past Grand Canyon games, Payson athletes have entered four-on-four flag football, soccer, shooting, track, volleyball, table tennis, basketball and shooting competitions.

For those interested in participating this year, the entry books provide a complete list of sports offered, dates, rules, fees and locations.

To participate, entrants must be residents of Arizona for at least 30 days immediately prior to the first day of competition. College students and military personnel who usually reside in Arizona or attend an Arizona school just prior to the games are eligible to enter.

Officials discourage entering more than one sport due to the competitive format and the possibility of overlapping schedules.

The games are a project of the Arizona Sports Council and are affiliated with similar competitions in 38 other states. The games are designed to give all Arizona residents the opportunity to take part in athletic competition with an Olympic atmosphere.

Olympic-style gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded in each division of all sports.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is the honorary chairperson of the games.

In addition to the winter games, the Arizona Sports Council helps sponsor the Lori Piestewa National Native American Games, July 14 to 17, 2005, in Flagstaff and Page.

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