Although the Longhorn wrestling line-up was not at full strength for the 3A East Multi-meet held Dec. 12 in Show Low, coach Travis Koppenhafer returned confident PHS could make a run at the region title.
“After Christmas, we will have everyone back and in their (correct) weight classes, so I’m confident we can win it,” he said.
For the meet in Show Low, the starters were absent because they were taking ACT tests. Also, senior Ben Sandoval, a wrestler expected to contend for a state weight class title, did not compete due to a serious leg infection that is on the mend.
Among those to shine in Cougarland was Ben Lee, who lost only to Show Low’s Ricky Ryan, a three-time defending state champion in the 130-pound class.
Lee gave Ryan a battle for the ages before falling 4-3. The Show Low wrestler also beat Lee in the championship round of the 2009 state tournament.
Koppenhafer believes Lee is improving enough to eventually beat Ryan. “Ben is closing the gap on him.”
In the 135-pound class, Joey Spear finished 5-0 in Show Low. His only loss this season was Dec. 5 to a New Mexico wrestler in the Rio Rancho Duals in Albuquerque.
At Show Low, freshman Matt Schreur moved to the 112-pound class from the 103 he’s wrestled much of the early season. He responded by winning all four matches.
“He’s only a freshman and growing, so we moved him up,” Koppenhafer said. “He was miserable trying to keep weight off.”
Derek Williams also moved a class, from 160 to 171, and finished with a creditable 3-2 mark.
“We did well for having only about half our team,” Koppenhafer said.
The Horn wrestlers will now take a brief respite before returning to action, Dec. 29-30 at the prestigious Mingus Invitational that annually draws some of the top 4A and 5A teams from around the state.
On Jan. 6, both the jayvees and varsity are in Heber for the Mogollon Multimeet.