Payson Grapplers Shine


Mike Bonnette led the Payson Pankration Martial Arts charge at the Desert Quest Grappling Championships, held June 2 in the Valley.

Competing in the 160-pound division, Bonnette wrestled his way to a third-place finish, which earned him recognition as one of the best in Arizona.


Members of the Payson martial arts teams include Mike Bonnette, Wyatt Shepherd, Randy Steinke and Abram Timmer. Not pictured are Ryan Sundra and Garry Naylor.

"He showed excellent technique, submitting all his opponents with a triangle choke, before losing in the finals by three points," said Payson Pankration owner and coach Wyatt Shepherd.

Also shining for the local martial arts studio was former PHS cross country team member Ryan Sundra.

Competing in the 147-pound division, he finished third.

"Ryan showed great takedowns and dominated his first three opponents," Shepherd said. He submitted his first two opponents by rear naked choke and won his third match on points, before losing in the finals."

Pankration team member Randy Steinke submitted his first opponent with an arm bar but then lost by two points, Shepherd said.

Garry Naylor and Abram Timmer also represented the Payson team.

The tournament was sponsored by the Rage in the Cage organization and drew some of the best grapplers in the state.

"Most of the competitors were professional, mixed martial arts fighters," Shepherd said. "We were up against the very best schools in Arizona."

Next up for the Pankration team is the Arizona State Jiu-Jitsu championships June 23 in the Mesa. On July 28, the team will compete in another Desert Quest tournament in Mesa.

New at the Payson school is the addition to the teaching staff of boxing trainer, Scott Ardrey.

"Scott is a former Olympic boxing coach," Shepherd said.

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