The week before the Christmas break for Payson High School is traditionally the time of some of the state's finest high school wrestling right here in Payson. The Rim Country Duals -- hosted by the Longhorn wrestling squad and organized with the help of the team parents and fans -- will highlight the weekend's activities on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14 and 15.
The Wilson Dome will be the beehive of activity where 10 teams will be wrestling dual meet competition on four mats simultaneously. The action is exciting and intense, with these grappling squads doing battle to earn the right to wrestle Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. in the championship dual meet. Along the way each squad will compete in five duals, which are essential in making young wrestlers seasoned veterans by the Christmas holiday.
At the conclusion of the tournament, the referees and coaches will vote on the two outstanding wrestler awards in the light and heavier weights. These awards will be presented in memory of Mark Sylvester, an all-state wrestler and football player who graduated in 1984 from PHS.
The schools represented are Camelback, Chaparral, Cesar Chavez, Fountain Hills, Page, Payson, Phoenix Christian, Queen Creek, San Manuel and Skyline. Numerous state placers and divisional qualifiers will be in the lineups of the various teams going to the mat.
The Payson Longhorns are the defending champions and hope to add another trophy to the wall of fame. With the very stiff competition this will be no easy task. Teams that have solid lineups that could challenge Payson for the title are Cesar Chavez, Page, Queen Creek, San Manuel and Skyline. These are dual meets during Friday and Saturday's competition that you will not want to miss for exciting high school wrestling.
Following the dual meet competition, the top four grapplers in each weight class will square off in a mini-tournament that will determine the weight class champions. It is possible at the conclusion of the two days for a wrestler to have an additional eight matches under his belt in preparation for the mat wars in the 3-A East divisional race.
For you sports enthusiasts and wrestling fans, the good news is that there will be no charge for admission for the two days of high school wrestling, according to tournament director Don Heizer. This Christmas tournament was designed to say thank you to all the parents and fans that travel and support high school athletics.
Community involvement is essential in making our student-athletes better citizens for the future.