Payson wrestlers were back in action on Wednesday night, downing division rivals Combs High and Paradise Valley High School.
Payson squared off with Paradise Valley first and jumped out to an early lead, gaining pins in the first five matches wrestled.
Freshman Tanner Dendy started the action in the 113 division after classmate Cayse Berry received a forfeit at 106. After scoring a quick takedown in the first period, Dendy reversed his opponent to his back early in the second period to get things rolling for the Longhorns.
Not to be outdone, fellow freshman Gabe Hernandez followed suit with a quick pin in the first period.
Junior Dallin Macnab and senior William McCrary each added a pin in short order before Chase Elmer received a forfeit at 138. Tate Sweeny added to the momentum at 145 to run the Longhorn lead to 42-0.
Paradise Valley fought back with pins at 152, 182, and 195. However, seniors Conner Anderson (160), Kyle Brown (170), Anselmo Vasquez (220), and Stephen Tubbs (Heavyweight), locked down the dual with pins of their own, which buoyed the Longhorns to a 66-18 victory.
Coach Casey Woodall said afterward that he was particularly impressed with how the younger kids wrestled.
“For some of the freshmen to step up and go out and get points for the team like that is a big deal for us… it bodes well for the future and shows how hard those kids are working.”
The Longhorn wrestlers took the mat against Combs High School, another divisional foe. The freshman trio that anchor the first three weights for the Horns had a tougher time this time around, and Combs jumped out to a 15-0 lead after scoring two pins and a decision in the first three weights. Just as it looked like Payson was on the ropes, Macnab injected life back into the Dome, scoring a technical fall with a score of 16-0 over his opponent in the second period. McCrary followed with a pin and Elmer received a forfeit to give the Longhorns a 17-15 lead. Sweeny added 5 for the Longhorns by scoring a technical fall over his opponent 16-0.
In a crucial swing match at 152 pounds, Dakota Harold battled back from behind to score 6 points in the third period alone and notch a critical win for the Horns by a score of 8-3.
“Dakota showed a ton of heart out there,” said Woodall. “He listened, worked hard, and just kept fighting. It was a great example of doing exactly what we ask our kids to do — just go out there and battle with everything you have — I was very proud of him.”
That match swung the momentum of the dual squarely in favor of the Horns and Anderson and Brown added to the heap by each pinning their opponents in the first period. Clint Denny and Tito Vega both fought valiantly, but lost in tight matches before Vasquez dominated his opponent with a brutal first-period pin. In what was probably the most exciting match of the night, Tubbs again battled back from behind to score a pin with 15 seconds remaining in the match to give the Longhorns a 49-27 victory.
JV wrestlers also fared well, winning 17 out of 19 matches wrestled. Clay Kaufman was 2-0, Dakota McNeely was 4-0, Nathan Cluff 2-0, Miguel Mendoza 3-0, Jake Ames 2-0, Trevor Anderson 1-0, Byron McCrary 0-1, Dalton Conway 2-0 and Nathan Hodges 1-1.
“The home crowd was great and overall I was very pleased with the way the kids wrestled,” said assistant coach Zach Lee. “We have a ways to go, but the kids are really working hard to bring Payson wrestling back to where it should be, and that is really fun to be a part of.”