Wrestlers Head To Prestigious Invitational

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Strap on the headgear and lace up the athletic shoes. The Longhorns are about to enter one of the Southwest's most prestigious and competitive wrestling tournaments.

The Green Valley Duals Wrestling Invitational has drawn the Longhorns and 25 other top-notch teams from Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, California and Arizona.

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Perfecting take down skills has been among the tasks Longhorn wrestlers have been working on since the onset of preseason practices a month ago. Grapplers Ryan Cox and Kevin Bryant show the form they hope will help them chalk up wins.

Among the most heralded will be Montrose, Colorado, Unitah of Vernal, Utah and Nevada's top five wrestling powers -- Cimarron Memorial, Mojave, Bonanza and Las Vegas.

The prestigious mat showdown begins today, Friday, and wraps up tomorrow afternoon at Green Valley High School in Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas.

Unitah, which finished second in the 2005 Green Valley Duals tournament, is a 12-time Utah state champion that finished second last season. It is also opened the new campaign, as a state top-five ranked team.

Montrose is one of Colorado's top teams that features a returning wrestler Kyle Avery (130) who went undefeated in this past season's tournament and has said this year he doesn't want to give up a single point.

Montrose coach Jack Garrison has predicted his team will finish among the top three or four at the GVD showdown.

Las Vegas High School is a perennial Nevada state champion contender that has also won consecutive five Sunrise Division titles.

Bonanza, also a wrestling powerhouse, has been the 4A Southwest Division champion the past five years and six of the past seven.

Last year, Cimarron Memorial won its fourth straight 4A state championship and its sixth in eight years.

As good as the competition is at the GVD, last year's Horns were able to turn in a commendable 5-2 record losing only to Unitah, 52-21, and Mojave, 53-21.

Payson beat Las Vegas twice.

Missing from that Longhorn team when today's tournament begins will be Lee Perez, David Cluff and Tyler Goodman, who all graduated last season.

Also, Steele Armstrong has transferred to Blue Ridge from Payson High.

If the Horns do have two wrestlers returning to Nevada who in 2005 proved their worth, it's Mark McCarty and Bryan Burke.

At last year's GVD skirmish, McCarty (145) finished 7-0 and Burke, then a 215-pound freshman, was 4-3.

Burke was entered in the fray only as a last minute substitute for senior Donnie Engler, who was injured.

Following the team's return to Payson from Nevada, former coach Rich Ormand bestowed BUGABA (Brutally

Aggressive Grapplers Uninhibited by Adversity) awards on McCarty and Burke for their tenacious performances.

McCarty will return to the tournament in the 152-pound weight division and Burke will remain in the 215-pound class.

PHS coach Dave LaMotte will also take to the duals defending 3A 140-pound state champion Porter Wilbanks who was 43-5 last season. Sophomore Taylor Byers, a state fifth-place finisher last season, will give the Longhorns a strong entry in the 125-pound mat wars.

Others PHS wrestlers who could see action in the duals are Zach Rodgers, Ben Sandoval, A.J. Rose, Nick Randall, Jordan Bucher, Ryan Cox, Kyle Leonard, Isaac Cluff and Oshay Chovanec.

The Longhorns are scheduled to make their home debut Dec. 6 in Wilson Dome in a series of dual matches against Show Low, Blue Ridge, Snowflake and Estrella Foothills.

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