Mark McCarty's almost life-long commitment to wrestling paid huge dividends at the prestigious Dave Work Memorial Tournament.
In the fray, Jan. 4 and 5 at Mingus High School, the Payson High School senior grappled his way to first-place finish in the 152-pound division.
Although McCarty lost a first-day match to a Mesa Red Mountain High School wrestler, he rebounded to win out and eventually earn the gold medal.
"He represented the Longhorn wrestling tradition at its best," PHS assistant coach Joe Harris said.
McCarty's tenacious showing and first-place finish came as no surprise to those who have watched the teenager overcome several injuries on his way through the ranks from USA youth wrestling to middle school and finally high school.
Rendering McCarty's win even more impressive is that he battled state-ranked foes representing mostly class 5A schools.
Although the Horns didn't produce any second-place finishers, a trio of wrestlers -- Bryan Burke, Isaac Cluff and Nick Goodman -- earned third-place honors.
As a team, the Horns finished seventh overall, with a 3-2 dual meet record. 16 teams from around the state participated.
The Horns travel tomorrow, Wednesday, to Wickenburg for a multi-meet. Also on the agenda is the Tim Van Horn Invitational, which will be held Jan. 18-19 in Wilson Dome. The match is one of the highlights on the Longhorn schedule and annually attracts some of the finest teams from around the state.