The 3A East conference tournament was a real nail-biter in the Wilson Dome Saturday with the Holbrook Roadrunners slipping past the Payson Longhorns by a score of 173.5 to 172.
The Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets were not far behind. The Blue Ridge heavyweight was the top seed when Longhorn Oscar Chavez caught him on his back for a pin in the first period, which secured the runner-up trophy for Payson. With the pin in the finals, he also earned the outstanding wrestler award in the 160-HWT division and will certainly be a force in the state championships this Friday and Saturday at the Glendale Arena.
Chavez has been involved in wrestling for only two years and has been a stalwart for the Longhorns all season long, sporting a 30-win and 3-loss record.
Another Longhorn, Porter Wilbanks, also a senior, won the title at 145 pounds and earned the Middleweight Outstanding Wrestler award. He is going into the state tournament with a 45-1 record and has his sights set on the state title.
Payson grapplers Ben Sandoval, 119, and Mark McCarty, 152, also weight class champions, will be entering the state tournament as one of our top seeds in their respective weight classes. A top seed is especially valuable in that there is always the hope of extra-pin points when wrestling a fourth seed from another division.
Three other Longhorns made it to the finals and earned a berth in the state tournament with Isaac Cluff at 140, Nick Goodman at 160 and Zach Rodgers at 171. Their first-round opponents next weekend will be a third seed from one of the other three divisions.
All three have great potential of reaching the finals on Saturday afternoon.
Bryan Burke won his consolation finals match with a pin and scored valuable third-place points, which can make the difference in a three-team race for the title. Alex Korth, 103, and Oshay Chovanec, 189, are fourth place qualifiers from the 3A East and will be a part of the Longhorn team wrestling for the state championship in 2007.
With 10 wrestlers, the Longhorns will definitely be one of the top teams at next weekend's state championships at the Glendale Arena.
There are five Payson grapplers who have a realistic shot at a state title and if the other five can be wrestling on Saturday afternoon, this team can make some real noise at the 2007 state championships.
Wrestling starts at 8:30 a.m. Friday for the day and will resume at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Glendale Arena. The medal matches will take place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday with the championship finals beginning at approximately 5 p.m. This will be high school wrestling at its finest, with the 1A to 5A championships all under one roof.
Tickets are $5 at the door. No school passes.