Wrestlers Vie For Memorial Trophy

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Winning the Tim Van Horn Memorial trophy has been the goal of most every Longhorn wrestler since the inception of the award about two decades ago.

The trophy is awarded at the conclusion of the Van Horn Invitational to the individual grappler who best exemplifies the traits of fair play, sportsmanship and aggressive wrestling.

Past Van Horns winners from PHS include Nate Lee, Zach Lee, Porter Wilbanks, Larry Wilbanks and Matt McCarty.

In 2000, Red Mountain's K.C. Weitman became one of only a few non-PHS wrestlers who have received the award. The trophy is awarded annually in memory of Tim Van Horn, who was killed in an out-of-state automobile accident in 1988.

Van Horn was an ardent wrestling team supporter and had two sons, Ansel and Doyle, who won state championships as members of the PHS team.

The two sons have traditionally joined other family members each year to award the memorial trophy.

This year, at the 18th annual Van Horn Invitational to be held Jan. 18-19 in Wilson Dome, the Longhorn team features a number of wrestlers who could contend for the title. They include Ben Sandoval (130), Isaac Cluff (140), Nick Goodman (160), Mark McCarty (152) and others.

As weighty as winning the memorial trophy is in PHS wrestling circles, it is the overall championship that will be a team goal.

The Horns will be looking to improve on last year's finish when the team took third behind champion Mesa Red Mountain and runner-up Gilbert Highland.

Chandler Basha was fourth and Marana Mountain View, fifth.

Tournament director Don Heizer anticipates those teams will return along with 10 other top-notch mat squads from around the state.

In the tournament format, each of the 14 weight classes will feature at least four seeded wrestlers, determined by earlier season results, as well as last year's state placing.

The wrestlers will be placed into two pools of eight athletes each, and then they will have seven bouts to determine the top four wrestlers in each weight class.

On Saturday at 1 p.m., the semifinals will determine the championship match for that weight class, which will begin at 5 p.m.

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