To be the best, you have to wrestle the best, and that is why the Payson wrestling team made the six-hour trip to Henderson, Nev.
This year's Green Valley Duals attracted a host of powerful wrestling teams from the Southwest for the two-day event this past Friday and Saturday. The Payson Longhorns gained valuable early season experience and returned home with two hard fought victories and three losses against quality opponents.
This kind of competition can only make a team better when wrestling the 3-A conference foes later this season.
A number of stalwart performances were demonstrated by the young Longhorn squad of wrestlers and this will pay big dividends later on in the season.
At 112 pounds, Taylor Byers recorded four wins against a single loss, as did Porter Wilbanks at 145 pounds.
Longhorns vs. Blue Ridge, Show Low, Snowflake and Estrella Foothills
When: 2 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Payson High School Wilson Dome
A very controversial call at the edge of the mat when the referee failed to award at least an escape point was the difference for Porter who is a 3-A defending state champion. Mark McCarty at 152 also finished with a 4-1 record in possibly the toughest weight class in the tournament.
At 119 pounds, freshman Ben Sandoval earned five wins and 0 losses, which should give him more confidence in future Arizona mat wars. He is no newcomer to wrestling, having earned the title of Junior High State Champion last year in the open middle school tournament with over 50 entries in his weight class.
Brian Burke, only a sophomore, also went undefeated at 215 pounds, despite the fact that he is giving up more than 15 pounds to his competitors. This nucleus of wrestlers should help this team on the future road of grappling success.
Early tournament competition is valuable. Strengths are solidified and weaknesses are exposed to be corrected in later practices.
An example of this happened during the tournament when, on Friday night, host Green Valley High defeated the Payson Longhorns and the coaches made some adjustments. Payson faced that same team on Saturday afternoon and soundly defeated them 42-27. This is what coaches hope for and it does create steady improvement for a high school squad. The current crew of Longhorn wrestlers are an exciting young team that will add to the tradition of wrestling at Payson High School.
This is a team you need to come out and support. On Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 2 p.m. in the Wilson Dome, they will make their home debut against 3-A East powers Blue Ridge, Show Low, Snowflake, and Estrella Foothills. It is early in the season, but these duals are important in establishing criteria for the end of the year conference tournament.
Whenever the 3-A East schools get together for an afternoon of grappling you can expect some top-notch high school wrestling. Come watch the Longhorn wrestlers in action.
103 Nick Randall
112 Taylor Byers
119 Ben Sandoval
125 Ryan Cox
130 Nathan O'Donnel
135 Kyle Leonard
140 Isaac Cluff
145 Porter Wilbanks
152 Mark McCarty
160 Kevin Bryant or Nick Goodman
171 Zach Rodgers
189 Oshay Chovanec
215 Bryan Burke
HWT No entries