An appearance in the Morenci Multiple Meet convinced Longhorn wrestling coach Casey Woodall the team remains a work in progress.
“We are hustling and battling, but I was a little disappointed in some of the mistakes we made,” he said following the team’s return from the Dec. 10 match. “We were sloppy in our technique and still making some rookie mistakes I thought we had corrected.”
Among the miscues the coach was lamenting were his wrestlers getting caught in headlocks and committing the cardinal sin of the sport — wrestling with backs on the mat.
“I don’t know how many matches we were winning and then got pinned; but it was a lot,” Woodall said. “Part of that is experience, but the bottom line is those are winnable matches that we need to win.”
A frustrating example of what the coach is referring to occurred in a 195-pound battle against Globe.
Payson wrestler Anselmo Vasquez held a 4-3 lead over the Tiger’s No. 1 ranked wrestler Mike Echevarria and appeared to be on his way to an upset.
But with just 20 seconds remaining in the match, Vasquez was caught in a headlock and lost.
“A heartbreaker,” Woodall said.
Another thriller occurred when Payson’s Dallin Macnab hooked up with Morenci’s Steve Gutierrez, a state finalist last season.
The two were no strangers to one another having gone head-to-head at two camps last summer.
Let’s let Woodall tell how the match unfolded.
“In the first period the two got tangled up in a scramble in which neither was able to secure a takedown.
“In the second period, Gutierrez rode tough and was able to lock up a cradle in the last few seconds to take a three-point advantage.
“In the third period, Macnab went to work riding tough and was on the verge of a near fall several times. Trailing by three points with 20 seconds left Macnab — knowing he had to make something happen — tried a risky turn and was reversed to lose the match.”
Although the match goes down in the record books as a defeat, the coach was upbeat saying the showdown demonstrated “the progress he (Macnab) has made in the span of a year.”
For the tournament Macnab finished with a 4-1 record.
Also competing for Payson and their records were Cody Sheppard (106; 4-1), William McCrary (120; 3-2), Zac Wilson (126; 3-2), Trevor Anderson (132; 2-3), Jacob Spear (138; 5-0), Tate Sweeny (145; 0-5), Kyle Brown (152; 1-4), Conner Anderson (160; 3-2) and Vasquez (195; 3-2).
Due to a lack of wrestlers in several classes, the Horns had to forfeit matches in the 170, 182, 220 and heavyweight divisions.
Which means, forfeiting 24 points before the dual begins renders team victories hard to come by.
None the less, the Horns beat Baboquivari 60-6 and Globe 39-35.
The Horns lost to Tucson Sabino, 42-24, Morenci, 68-11, and Wilcox, 45-36.
The Longhorns return to action Dec. 16 and 17 in the Tempe McClintock Invitational.
The Longhorns only home appearance this season will be Jan. 20 and 21 during the Payson Invitational.