Payson High School wrestlers will tip off the 2012 season Jan. 4 at the Mogollon High School Multiple Meet buoyed by the experience and moxie of having competed in some of the state’s toughest matches.
The only kink in future plans is the Longhorns will probably be forced to forfeit four weight classes, and 24 team points during each match. Currently, the team does not have wrestlers to fill the 170, 182, 220 and heavyweight classes.
The team does, however, have some wrestlers who are rounding into tiptop form and will be forces to reckon with no matter how tough the upcoming tournament.
Among them is 138-pound senior Jacob Spear who was 5-0 in a Morenci tournament and 2-2 in the McClintock tournament, losing only to Division I’s No. 1 and 3 ranked wrestlers. The only other senior on the very young Horn roster is 126-pound Zac Wilson who finished 3-2 at Morenci. Last year, Wilson wrestled as a 119-pounder.
Dallin Macnab (113) has been another Longhorn stalwart, just missing out on a medal at McClintock and finishing 4-1 at Morenci, losing a thriller to Morenci’s returning state finalist Steve Gutierrez.
Coach Casey Woodall has also praised Conner Anderson (160), Anselmo Vasquez (195) and Kyle Brown (152) for what he calls “scrappy performances.” In particular, Vasquez wrestled well in Morenci, taking a 4-3 lead over the state’s No. 1 ranked wrestler, Mike Echevarria of Globe. In the final 20 seconds, however, Echevarria slammed a headlock on Vasquez to win a nip-and-tuck thriller.
In 2011 battles, the Horn cause also received some commendable performances from Trevor Anderson (132), William McCrary (120) and Cody Shephard (106). Conner and Trevor Anderson are the sons of Eric Anderson, now a Payson dentist, who in the late 1980s was a state champion and one of the Longhorns’ finest wrestlers.
The team will make its only home appearance of the season Jan. 20 and 21 in the Payson Invitational. It will have 23 teams, the largest field ever.