Because Payson High School wrestling coach Casey Woodall seizes every possible opportunity to enter his team into the most competitive high school dual meets and tournaments in the state, no one will ever accuse him of shying away from stiff competition.
For instance, on Dec. 3 and 4 the Longhorns traveled to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix to compete in the prestigious Asics Southwest Showdown Duals that drew the best teams from a four-state area including ones representing schools with student bodies that number in the thousands.
Woodall entered the tournament knowing his team is extremely inexperienced with only two seniors, Zac Wilson and Jacob Spear, and would be forced to give up double-digit forfeit points in each match because the team did not have wrestlers to enter in the 106, 145, 170 and heavyweight classifications.
“All weekend we gave up 24 points in forfeits which makes it pretty tough to win duals,” Woodall said.
Playing the role of decided underdog, the Longhorns managed to finish 2-5 in dual meets whipping Mountain Ridge and Desert Edge, both Division I schools.
The Horns lost to Corona del Sol, Sandra Day O’Connor, Carl Hayden and to Tempe twice.
The sub .500 tournament record didn’t deter the coach’s enthusiasm for the team members.
“I thought we wrestled relatively well for being as young as we are,” Woodall said. “We definitely improved and wrestled with more confidence as the tournament went on.”
Although the coach would have liked to have racked up a few more dual wins, he returned from GCU buoyed by the PHS wrestlers’ dogged determination, “We wrestle hard and aggressive.
“We won a few matches simply because we out-hustled our opponents, which is always a positive.”
Individually, the coach cited Conner Anderson, Kyle Brown and Anselmo Vasquez for their “notable improvements from last year.”
Anderson, wrestling in the 160-pound weight division, battled to a 5-2 record, Brown, a 152-pounder, was 4-3 and Vasquez finished 4-3 in the 195-pound class.
Woodall also praised 113-pound Dallin Macnab who compiled the team’s best individual record in the tournament.
“I was particularly impressed with Dallin going 6-1 against some quality competition,” said Woodall. “It is a testament to how hard he worked in the off season.”
Bill McCrary (120; 5-2), Trevor Anderson (133; 0-7), Jacob Spear (138; 5-2), Austin Moss (182; 1-6) and Brett Royer (220; 1-6), also represented Payson High in the tournament.
Following the team’s return to the Rim Country, Woodall assessed the future saying, “We definitely have a lot of work to do and made some rookie mistakes, but I look forward to seeing this team’s progress.”
He also contends the team can become a legitimate prep contender down the schedule road, “I can see us making a big jump by the time February rolls around; the attitudes are in the right place.”
The team returns to action today, Dec. 10, when it travels to Morenci for the Morenci Multiple Meet.