Wrestlers Take Second At State

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The Safford Bulldogs' depth proved too much for the Payson Longhorns to overcome in the battle for the Class 3A state championship.

With a full contingent of 14 state qualifiers and seven South Region champions available for duty, the Dogs bit runner-up Payson, 227.50 to 164.50, in the championship finals Feb. 10 to 11 in Glendale Arena.

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The Payson Longhorns wrestling team entered the state tournament with 12 state qualifiers and four East Region champions.

Payson entered the state showdown armed with 12 state qualifiers and four East Region champions.

Although the Horns came up short in their bid for the state championship, the team did produce two individual weight-class title holders.

Junior Porter Wilbanks captured the 140-pound gold medal and Lee Perez wrestled his way to the 145-pound crown.

Wilbanks won the crown by defeating Blue Ridge's Billy Rova 8-3 in the championship finale.

Perez scored an 18-5 major decision over Chee BiNali of Monument Valley in the gold medal round.

In the state team competition, Show Low, which finished as East Region runners-up to Payson, took third place with 147 points.

Winslow, of the North Region, tallied 113 and was fourth.

28 teams compete in the tournament.

(See the Feb. 17 edition for complete state tournament results).

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