Former Phs Wrestler Earns 100th Career College Victory



Nicole Quast

Larry Wilbanks, a Payson High School graduate and former member of the Longhorn wrestling team, recently won his 100th college match.

Duke Wilbanks is one proud papa.

His sublime content is because he was on hand last week in Alamosa, Colo. to see his son Larry record his 100th career victory for the Western State College of Colorado wrestling team.

“We were told it’s a very big deal, only a few (wrestlers) have ever won 100 matches,” Duke Wilbanks said.

Rendering the feat even more commendable is that the win, a 16-0 technical fall victory over Adams State’s Don Medina, came against WSC’s archrivals and helped secure a thrilling 25-18 victory.

WSC coach Miles Van Hee, who recruited Larry out of Payson High School, said in a media release, “This is a huge honor to reach the 100 win mark as a collegiate wrestler and Larry is very deserving.”

The coach also commended the ex-Longhorn’s accomplishments during his four-year career at Western State.

“Larry has been very instrumental to the Western State wrestling program’s success and tradition since the day he signed to be a Mountaineer,” he said.

At WSC, Larry Wilbanks has compiled a record of 100-35 that includes being a two-time national-qualifier, two-time All-American and two-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Champion.

Three years ago, Wilbanks was the RMAC’s Freshman Wrestler of the Year.

Wilbanks wrapped up his Payson High career as one of the most accomplished wrestlers to emerge from the storied Longhorn mat program.

As a 160-pound senior, he won the Grand Canyon Region weight-class title, the Class 4A state championship and finished with an impressive 52-0 mark. At the conclusion of the year, he was selected to participate in the Arizona Coaches Association Red vs. Blue All-Star match. His opponent was Class 5A weight-class champ Alex Pavlenco of Tempe Marcos de Niza.

Pavlenco, who was undefeated and the recipient of an Arizona State University scholarship, was the more heralded of the two.

In the practice days leading up to the clash, Wilbanks refused to be impressed by the big-city media attention and the favorite’s role directed Pavlenco’s way.

Just as most predicted, the match took on the aura of a junkyard dogfight.

With the score deadlocked 1-1 and less than two seconds on the clock, Wilbanks perfectly executed a shoot move and a take down that earned him two match-winning points.

With the 3-1 victory, Wilbanks claimed bragging rights as the finest 160-pound wrestler in Arizona.

As a 160-pound junior, Wilbanks finished 44-1 and won both the East Region and 3A conference championships. His one loss was a 4-3 decision in double overtime to a Tempe High grappler.

During Wilbanks’ sophomore year he compiled a 38-8 mark in the 135-pound division. He also won the East Region crown and was a state runner-up.

As a skinny 112-pound freshman, Wilbanks claimed the East championship and battled to sixth place at the state tournament.

Wilbanks says there was no secret to his prep success.

“I had good coaches all the way through high school and they helped me work hard,” he said.

At Western State, Wilbanks is majoring in sports business and will graduate in the spring.


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