Payson Grads Excelling On College Wrestling Teams


Former Longhorn wrestling star Nate Lee turned in a trip through California he will not soon forget.

Lee, now a member of the nationally 25th-ranked Boise State University wrestling team, finished 3-0 during the Bronco's recent West coast swing.


Nate Lee

At UC Davis Jan. 19, the ex-Horn (174) scored a 4-3 win over Tyler Bernacchi to give his team a 14-9 lead over the California school.

Thanks in part to Lee's efforts, BSU went on to win 23-15 and extend its dual match-winning streak to four.

Also in California, Lee decisioned Stanford's Luke Feist 10-3 to lift his team to a 21-15 win over the Pac-10 Conference school.

Lee recorded his third road trip with an 18-7 win over Jason Points of Cal State.

As a redshirt sophomore, Lee set out the 2005-2006 season, competing only unattached in two open tournaments.

The following year, he compiled a 28-13 record in his first full season of intercollegiate competition.

In the postseason, he was third in his weight class at the Pac-10 Conference championship tournament, which earned him a berth into the NCAA championships.

In the NCAA league tournament in Bakersfield, Calif., he again finished third by decisioning Stanford's Feist 6-5 in the bronze medal round.

At the NCAA finals, he lost 5-3 to Minnesota's Gabrile Dretsch and 12-3 to John Heleniak of Millersville.

During the regular season, Lee was third at both the Oregon Classic and the Best of the West Tournament. At the Reno Tournament of Champions, he was fourth.


Zach Lee

Also during the season, he strung together an 11-match winning streak and led the team in major decision victories with 12.

In tournament matches, he was 17-11 and in dual matches 11-2.

As a Horn

In 2005 at Payson High School, Lee -- competing in the 171-pound division -- wrapped up his senior season with a 52-0 record and won his second 4A weight class state title. His first two state crowns were won when Payson High was a member of the 3A conference.

During his tenure on the PHS team, Lee compiled an impressive 197-3 record and went more than three full seasons without experiencing a defeat.

His prep 98.5 winning percentage represents one of the best marks ever turned in by an Arizona wrestler.

Following his senior season, he was also named to the All-Arizona Wrestling Team. Later, in a voting of Arizona Wrestling Coaches Association members, Lee was named Arizona's "Co-wrestler of the Year" along with Tucson wrestlers Nick Gallick and Matt Lopez.

Two more Horns on top


Larry Wilbanks

While Nate Lee was shining at Boise State, two of his former PHS teammates, Larry Wilbanks and older brother, Zach Lee, were spearheading a mat run at Western State College of Colorado.

Zach Lee (165) compiled a 5-0 record at the Cliff Keen National Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa to lead his team to a fifth place finish.

Lee, ranked third in the most recent NCAA Division II rankings, scored major decision victories over four of his opponents and a technical fall over the fifth.

The wins improved his record to 9-2 and earned him the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's "Wrestler of the Week" honor.

Wilbanks, ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division II 174-pound division, was one of only two WSC wrestlers to advance to the final round of 16 at the Cliff Keen Last Vegas Invitational.

Wilbanks opened the tournament with victories over Wyoming and Buffalo University foes before falling to third-seeded Steve Luke of Michigan, 9-3.

Last season, both Wilbanks and Zach Lee were All-Americans at Western State.

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