Members of the Longhorns wrestling team don their top-four medals at the conclusion of the Rim Country Duals meet held Dec. 19 to 20 in Wilson Dome. As a team, the Longhorns finished third behind runner-up Queen Creek and champion Skyline.
Payson’s 135-pound senior Ben Sandoval led the Longhorns to a 5-2 record and a third-place finish in the Payson Pro Rodeo Association Rim Country Duals Wrestling Tournament.
During the annual fray held Dec. 19 and 20 in Wilson Dome, Sandoval easily took the 135-pound title by posting a 6-0 record that included three pins and three wins by technical falls.
“During the entire tournament he only let one (opponent) score on him,” assistant coach Joseph Harris said.
In addition to Sandoval’s outstanding showing, the Horns received championship efforts from freshman Joey Spear, sophomore Ben Lee and senior Bryan Burke.
Spear won the 103-pound title by defeating a Skyline opponent in the finals.
Lee (125) and Burke (215) also beat Skyline foes in their championship finals.
Skyline, which now appears to be a powerhouse in the big schools conference, won the duals team championship with a 7-0 record.
At 6-1, Queen Creek was second.
Nick Goodman wrestled his way to a second-place finish in the 152-pound competition.
The Longhorns had four wrestlers grapple their way to bronze medals. They included Ryan Abraham (119), Jacob Cluff (130), Derek Williams (171) and Garrett McNeeley (hwt).
Competing in addition to Skyline, Queen Creek and Payson were Camelback, Fountain Hills, San Manuel and Seton Catholic.
The duals, which have been a fixture on the Rim Country sports scene for almost two decades, were sponsored this year for the first time ever by the local pro rodeo committee.
The Longhorns will continue to practice during the holidays under the direction of first-year coach Travis Kopenhafer before returning to the mat Jan. 2 and 3 at the Mingus Invitational.