The Payson High School wrestling team, though light on numbers, has always been a self-motivated, hard-working group.
For evidence, look to the Longhorns’ sterling state runner-up finish several weeks ago. Most impressive about the showing is that the team battled to the Arizona silver medal while putting only eight wrestlers in 14 weight class divisions on the mat.
Although official records are not kept, that could be a first in state prep wrestling history.
Further evidence the grapplers are an assiduous group unfolded only days after the state tournament when five of the team members banded together to host Little Longhorn wrestling camp.
“They did it (host the camp) almost by themselves,” PHS assistant coach Joe Harris said. “We were just there to supervise, but they did the coaching and planning.”
The varsity members overseeing the camp were Joey Spear Jr., Jake Spear, Colton Ludtke, Jacob Cluff and Derek Williams.
The wrestling camp, which is sponsored by the Town of Payson Parks and Recreation Department, drew 30 youths from grades three through eight.
Sessions were held 90 minutes three days a week for three weeks in Wilson Dome.
“The campers were taught everything — offense, defense, on-your-feet moves and live wrestling,” Harris said. “There were even some fun games thrown in.”
At the conclusion of the camp, the varsity clinicians selected four campers to receive “Outstanding Wrestler Awards.”
Charlie Francis, Levi Witherspoon, Dillon Keeney and Nathan Cluff were the recipients.
In giving out the citations, Joey Spear lauded the campers as “the key to our program; the future is with those little kids.
“They came in and worked hard.”
The Little Longhorn wrestling program was started several years ago to help build interest in high school wrestling, but this was the first spring it was hosted entirely by PHS varsity team members.
“It is a great feeder program,” Harris said. “And it was really neat to see them (varsity) wrestlers give back.”