Longhorns Wrestle To A Third-Place Finish In Tim Van Horn Tournament

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With a legion of Tim Van Horn's family and friends looking on, Payson High School senior wrestler Porter Wilbanks proudly clutched the memorial trophy for which the annual tournament is named.

Wilbanks, a 145-pound defending state champion, received the trophy Saturday evening in Wilson Dome at the conclusion of the 17-team Tim Van Horn Memorial Tournament.

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Longhorn coach Dave LaMotte, top left, gives words of encouragement to freshman Nick Randall.

Van Horn, a longtime PHS wrestling supporter was killed in an out-of state automobile accident in 1988.

Following his death, then PHS coach Dennis Pirch and others spearheaded a move to name the tournament in his honor.

Since its renaming, the Van Horn's family has shown up at each tournament to present the memorial trophy to the wrestler who best exemplifies the traits of fair play, sportsmanship and aggressive wrestling.

Among the Van Horn members in attendance were Tim's sons, Ansel and Doyle, who both won state weight class championships as members of the Longhorn team.

Following the tournament, Wilbanks thanked the Van Horn family for selecting him.

"It means a lot to me," he said. "It's such a tradition and it's nice to know I was good enough to be a part of that tradition and win the award."

Wilbanks said he was too young to know Tim Van Horn but grew up hearing stories of him.

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Nick Goodman wrestled his way to a third-place finish in the 160-pound class of the Tim Van Horn tournament held Jan. 19 and 20 in Wilson Dome.

Porter's older brother, Larry, won the memorial trophy two years ago.

In staking claim to the title, Wilbanks beat Charles Galvin of Red Mountain in a decision of 7-1 in the finals Saturday evening.

"I was able to use a double leg, a single leg (takedowns) and a reversal and an escape (for the win)," Wilbanks said. "That was the first time I had ever wrestled him."

Wilbanks' efforts, coupled with those of his teammates, propelled the Longhorns to a third-place finish in a field of top-notch teams, including eight from the 4A and 5A ranks.

Mesa Red Mountain, which could battle for a state big school title, was first with 411 points. Gilbert Highland took second posting 409 points. The Longhorns tallied 381.5 points.

The two-point final spread represented one of the closest team finishes in the history of the tournament.

Trailing Payson were Basha (296) and Marana Mountain View (279).

Also for the Longhorns in the individual competition, Mark McCarty was second in the 152-pound class, losing only to a Red Mountain wrestler in the finals. In the 160-pound battles, sophomore Nick Goodman was a third-place finisher. Zach Rodgers was fourth among the 171-pounders. Bryan Burke (215) and Oscar Chavez (Hwt.) both finished second in the tournament.

Longtime Van Horn tournament director and PHS assistant coach, Don Heizer, called the annual mat shootout a complete success, saying it provided the opportunity for scores of wrestlers from around the state to showcase their skills.

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