Longhorn wrestler David Cluff has quietly gone about his job this season deferring public attention to some of his more visible teammates.
But at the Tim Van Horn Memorial Tournament Jan. 21 and 22 in Wilson Dome, the usually quiet teen roared his way to a 9-0 record and the championship of the 147-pound division.
The showing in the Van Horn upped his winning streak to 18 consecutive matches and drew praise from assistant coach and tournament director Don Heizer.
"His coachability and work ethic have made him a very good wrestler." he said. "When you tell him this is way it should be done, it gets done that way."
Head coach Rich Ormand agreed.
"He's listening, working hard and wrestling really well right now. he's peaking," the coach said.
For his tournament efforts, Cluff was named the outstanding wrestler in the lightweight divisions.
One highlight of Cluff's career occurred in the championship round of the Van Horn when he defeated Window Rock's Warren Damon 8-5.
"(Cluff) just wore the guy out to the point he didn't have anything left," Heizer said.
Cluff's individual performance lifted Payson to a fourth-place tournament finish behind champ Gilbert Highland, runner-up Marana Mountain View and bronze medalist Apache Junction.
In addition to Cluff's championship, the Horn team effort received first-place points from 171-pound Nate Lee who was 7-0 in the tournament. Lee also was named the outstanding wrestler in the upper weights class and was awarded the Tim Van Horn Memorial trophy.
Brandon Chovanec took a second-place medal in the 130-pound division.
Third-place team points were posted by Tyler Goodman (119), Lee Perez (135) and Shane Hounshell (160).
Junior Donnie Engler (215) returned to the mat from a knee injury to finish sixth.
The Horns were without the services of two of their finest grapplers. Sophomore Porter Wilbanks (125) is sidelined with a shoulder injury and Mark McCarty (140) is resting a bruised knee.
Ormand and Heizer expect the two to return to the lineup for the Grand Canyon Region finals Feb. 4 and 5 in Wilson Dome.