This weekend, Payson High School will be hosting the 16-team Tim Van Horn Memorial Wrestling Tournament, which is a showcase event for high school athletics in the state of Arizona.
Numerous ranked teams from the 3A to the 5A divisions will be doing battle in the Wilson Dome for the team title as well as individual awards for the 14 weight classes.
5A powers Red Mountain Mesa and Gilbert Highland have earned the team title the past six years, but numerous teams are definite dark horse possibilities such as Marana Mountain View, Basha High School, and, of course, our own Payson Longhorns have hopes of dethroning the perennial 5A powers. Other teams to watch are Tempe and Desert View who certainly add to the excitement with a number of outstanding wrestlers in the run for the team title.
Each of the 14 weight classes will have at least four seeded wrestlers, determined by earlier season results as well as last year's state placing. The wrestlers will be put into two pools of eight athletes each, then they will have seven bouts to determine the top four wrestlers in each weight class.
On Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., the semifinals will determine the championship match for that weight class, which will begin at 5 p.m. With the quality of the wrestlers participating, the finals should be some real exciting matches you won't want to miss.
A number of Payson Longhorns will be in the hunt for individual weight class championships while the entire squad will be wrestling to earn valuable team points and one of those attractive medals awarded to the top six athletes in each weight class. Porter Wilbanks, with a record of 31-1, and Mark McCarty, 29-3, have a definite shot to win it all for the Longhorns. The Longhorns are really starting to develop as a team and their wrestling skills are getting better with each outing.
The Tim Van Horn Memorial is their next step in their quest for a conference and state crown. This tournament is named after former Payson resident, Tim Van Horn, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident in l988. He was an avid fan and supporter of Payson wrestling and during his college days was an All-American for Phoenix College. His two sons, Ansel and Doyle, both wrestled for Payson High School, where they earned weight class state championships and led the Longhorns to state titles. The Van Horn family will be in attendance at the tournament finals and present the Tim Van Horn Award to the wrestler who best exemplifies the traits of fair play and aggressive wrestling.
Longtime tournament director Don Heizer said, "This may be the best gathering of teams ever for the Van Horn with so many ranked teams from all divisions." The tournament begins at 11 a.m. Friday and will go until 8 p.m. that same evening. On Saturday, wrestling begins at 9 a.m. There is no admission charge for any of the sessions.
103 Nick Randall, Freshman
160 Nick Goodman, Sophomore
171 Zach Rodgers, Senior (24/6)
112 Taylor Byers, Sophomore (25/8)
189 Oshay Chovanec, Sophomore
119 Ben Sandoval, Freshman (21/6)
215 Bryan Burke, Sophomore (25/6)
125 Ryan Cox, Sophomore
HWT Oscar Chavez, Senior
130 Forest Hargett or Nathan O'Donnell
135 Isaac Cluff, Sophomore (20/8)
140 Kyle Leonard, Senior
145 Porter Wilbanks, Senior (31/1)
152 Mark McCarty, Junior