Longhorn Senior Earns Top Individual Wrestling Honor

The Tim Van Horn Invitational held Jan. 23 and 24 in Wilson dome featured quality wrestling including this showing by Payson’s Ben Lee.A total of 14 teams, class 2A to 5A competed in the prestigious tournament.

The Tim Van Horn Invitational held Jan. 23 and 24 in Wilson dome featured quality wrestling including this showing by Payson’s Ben Lee.A total of 14 teams, class 2A to 5A competed in the prestigious tournament. |

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Longhorn Nick Goodman shows the mat from that helped him pin down a second place finish in the 152-pound division at the Tim Van Horn Invitational.

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Bryan Burke

Call Bryan Burke’s cell phone and you’ll hear his personalized greeting, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

The message is fitting for the Payson High School senior because he is living up to the welcome as evidenced by two Herculean wrestling feats that most high school athletes can only dream of.

The achievements include a come from behind victory over an old Blue Ridge High nemesis and the winning of the most prestigious individual award doled out in the Longhorn wrestling program.

That award was given out at the conclusion Tim Van Horn Invitational held Jan. 24 in Wilson dome. After winning the 217-pound weight class with a 5-0 record, Burke was named the recipient of the Tim Van Horn Outstanding Wrestling Award.

“I was pumped to win it because it’s always gone to wrestlers in the (lighter) weight classes and I’ve never got an outstanding wrestler award,” Burke said. “Also I know how (prestigious) the (Van Horn) award is.”

On his way to the gold medal and the Van Horn trophy, Burke capped his undefeated record with a 16-3 major decision win over a Gilbert Highland wrestler.

A Van Horn family member gave the award to Burke, in honor of Tim a long time PHS wrestling supporter who died two decades ago in an out-of-state automobile accident.

Some of the Horns greatest wrestlers have been recipients of the storied trophy.

Just days before winning the Van Horn, Burke carved out one of the most impressive wins in his four-year mat career whipping Blue Ridge’s Steel Armstrong 6-5.

The win was chalked up in a round robin tournament held in Springerville.

Burke trailed Armstrong 5-3 going into the third period but used a cross face move to record a three-point near fall, which eventually proved to be the winning points.

Burke and Armstrong, a former PHS student-athlete who transferred to BRHS three years ago, have been on and off the field buddies since their elementary school days.

Although Armstrong left for Lakeside, the pair have remained good friends and even attended a Colorado football camp together last summer.

During the past football season, the duo were on the opposite sides of the line of scrimmage on two occasions — in the regular season and in the state championship game.

Payson won the two matchups with both players turning in huge performances.

The pairs head-to-heated battles over the course of the past three years hasn’t ruined their friendship.

“We might even room together next year,” Burke said.

If that happens it would be at Scottsdale Community College where Burke has committed to play football and hopes Armstrong follows suit.

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