Look up "determination" in the dictionary and you might see a picture of Lee Perez.
His picture deserves to be there because the Payson High School senior is the epitome of perseverance, tenacity and will power.
The four-year letter winner will graduate in the spring. He will depart the school as one of the most accomplished wrestlers to ever pass through the storied Longhorn wrestling program.
The grit he has shown during his four years in the PHS wrestling program paid huge dividends the past season when he grappled his way to the 135-pound East region and Class 3A state championships.
On the way to the crowns, the four-time state qualifier was named the outstanding wrestler in the middle weight classes at the Rim Country Duals and the Tim Van Horn Memorial Tournament.
Among his greatest accomplishments the past year might be his state final round victory -- by an 18-5 major decision -- over Monument Valley's Chee BiNali. The highly regarded MV wrestler entered the fray with a 43-1 record and as the North region champion.
In the state tournament, pitted against top four qualifiers from around the state, Perez finished 5-0 chalking up two falls, a 7-3 decision and the major decision against BiNali.
The hard fought four-point decision was scored against West region champion Jerrad Trulson (51-3) of Fountain Hills.
Also during Perez's senior year, he was a one of the Longhorn cross country team's top four runners who ran his way last fall to a 54th place finish in the elite state qualifying field.
As a junior in 2005, when Payson High School was a member of the Class 4A Grand Canyon Region -- probably the most competitive conference in Arizona -- Perez was a state fifth-place finisher. His efforts helped the Horns win the GCR team championship.
Also his junior year, Perez became one of the team's "Fab Four" who wrestled their way to Rim Country Duals weight class championships. In the foursome with Perez, were Tyler Goodman, Brandon Chovanec and Nate Lee.
As a sophomore, he was a GCR champion and state third-place finisher, losing only to eventual state champion Kyle DeBerry of Tucson Sunnyside. He finished the campaign with a 37-15 record.
In the spring of 2005, Perez was among 11 PHS wrestlers who qualified for the USA Wrestling Rocky Mountain Nationals tournament.
Later that year, he went on to wrestle his way to a third place finish at the Camp of Champions held at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
About all that is left for Perez to accomplish on the prep scene is to be selected to the Arizona Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star match when athletes are chosen this spring.