CAMP VERDE – Payson continued its strong start to the wrestling season by going 5-0 at the Camp Verde Duals on Friday and Saturday. The Longhorns improved to 7-0 on the young season.
Although they were unbeaten in the team portion of the tournament on Friday, they wound up finishing second to a Buckeye Verrado team they beat 41-26. Team scores from Friday were combined with points from Saturday’s individual tournament to determine the final team standings.
Verrado scored 490.5 points. Payson had 472. Camp Verde was third in the 12-team field with 451.5.
Although the Longhorns had nine wrestlers reach the finals, only two of them — Dallin Macnab at 132 and Chase Elmer at 138 — won championships. Having seven runners-up was a key to the second-place finish for the team.
“We definitely put together a really good tournament,” said Payson head coach Zach Lee. “And I was happy with the kids until the last round. We went back to our old habits in the last round and it showed in the results. It was a good starting point and we have a lot of things we can work on to take away from the weekend.”
In addition to several individuals not performing the way they’re capable of in the finals, the fact that the Longhorns had to forfeit at two weights because of a lack of wrestlers hurt PHS in the final team standings because it cost the Horns 12 points in all five team matches. Verrado, meanwhile, was the only squad with a wrester at every weight.
“We gave up two forfeits, which is 12 points,” Lee said. “We handled Verrado pretty well, but the way the tournament was set up, they took all the points they scored in the duals and added them in the second day; so the forfeits (hurt us).”
Macnab, a senior, was 7-0. Elmer, a junior, went 6-0.
“Chase really put together a pretty good tournament and did some stuff that we’ve been working on with him and wrestled really well this weekend,” Lee said.
Elmer improved to 7-1 after going 1-1 in the season-opening triangular with Winslow and Show Low on Wednesday. Payson won both duals, but Elmer lost a decision against Winslow before winning against the Cougars. And that loss motivated him to improve in the tournament.
“I was really disappointed with myself about the Winslow loss,” Elmer said. “I felt I should have won and I just didn’t go out and wrestle the way that I was supposed to wrestle. I really wanted to go undefeated and win the tournament. I wrestled the way my coach wanted me to wrestle (at Camp Verde).”
Elmer, who went 42-11 as a state qualifier at 138 as a sophomore, said the Longhorns are fortunate to have good coaches on their side.
“I think we’re all working really hard and we have really good coaches in the room,” Elmer said “I don’t think we could have better coaches.”
Lee said it was pretty much business as usual for Dallin Macnab, who improved to 9-0 on the season, getting a pin against Bradshaw Mountain in the title bout.
“Dallin wrestled about like he does usually,” Lee said. “He put together a couple of good matches and ended up on top.”
Macnab said the tournament gave him a better idea of where he stands in the early going.
“I still have work to do,” he said. “It definitely gives me a good insight of how I’m doing so far and how I need to progress and how much harder I need to work to be a state champ. My goal is to be a state champ.”
He said the fact that the Longhorns are 7-0 is great for team chemistry. “I think it’s really good for the team,” Macnab said. “It gives us a good start and helps us get closer as a team. As we start winning more as a team, we’ll get a lot closer and perform a lot better.”
Byron McCrary (106), Brendan Macnab (113), Dylan Keeney (120), Trevor Anderson (126), Tate Sweeney (145), Nathan Cluff (152) and Tito Vega (195) all finished second.
The Longhorns dominated the first day of the tournament, winning every dual by at least 15 points and four of them by 32 or more points. They beat Mohave Valley River Valley 63-6, Shonto Prep 72-6, Tuba City 50-18, Verrado and Wellton Antelope 63-6.
The Longhorns get back to action at Page on Wednesday against Page, Flagstaff and Flagstaff Coconino.
“We’re definitely wrestling well as a team,” Lee said. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens as the season wears on. Coconino and Flagstaff generally are pretty competitive and we’ve been competitive with them the last few years. It’ll be a good test to see how we’re doing.”