Former Payson High School mat standout Larry Wilbanks will be one of seven Western State College wrestlers competing in the NCAA Division II Winter National Championship Festival.
The tournament will begin March 13 in Houston.
Wilbanks qualified for the prestigious showdown by finishing second in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament.
In the skirmish, Wilbanks wrestled at 184 pounds for the first time in his career. He moved up from 174, a division he’s competed in most of the four years he’s been at WSC.
The ex-Horn volunteered to move up a division after the team’s regular season 184-pounder was injured and the weight class would have been a forfeit had Wilbanks not stepped up.
The strategy worked to perfection as Western State won the RMAC championship and Wilbanks earned his third RMAC honor in his career by being named second team all-conference.
At Western State College, Wilbanks has compiled a 105-37 record.
In the RMAC tournament, Wilbanks’ only loss was 5-1 to Kyle Sand of Adams State in the championship finale.
Only a few weeks earlier, while wrestling in the lower weight class, Wilbanks chalked up the 100th win of his career beating another Adams State grappler, Don Medina.
Wilbanks opened the RMAC tournament with an 8-0 major decision over Chadron’s Ty Brown.
In advancing to the championship round, Wilbanks pulled off the upset of the tournament, edging Fort Hayes State University’s Tyler Gonzales, 3-2.
At Payson High, Wilbanks was 52-0 as a senior, 44-1 as a junior and 38-8 as a sophomore. He won state championships his final two years at PHS and was a state runner-up as a sophomore.
He also starred in football as a wide receiver and defensive back.
In 2006 in Payson, while on summer college recess, he won the town-sponsored home run derby.