Payson High wrestlers will be locked in mat wars for all the marbles when they travel tomorrow, Feb. 2, to Higley High School to compete in the Division III, Section IV championships.
At stake will be berths in the state championships, which is the goal for most every prep wrestler from the day he takes up the sport.
For Longhorn matmen to reach grappling’s promised land, they must finish in the top-four of their weight division at the sectional tournament.
Those who do will be seeded into the Division III state tournament to unfold Feb. 8 and 9 at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
While PHS is a member of probably the most competitive section in D-III, the Horns appear to have a number of wrestlers who could garner top-four finishes, if not higher, and advance to state.
There is, however, one weight class the Horns will not be represented in either tomorrow or the following week at state.
The team currently does not have a heavyweight and coach Casey Woodall said this week that there was no likelihood of being able to fill the class at the last minute.
While the forfeiture of a weight class and six points can stymie a team, the Longhorn contingent of Dallin Macnab (120), William McCrary (126), Chase Elmer (138), Conner Anderson (160), Kyle Brown (170) and Anselmo Vasquez (220) could pile up the team points the Horns need for a run at sectional honors.
While the big six are being counted on for big-time contributions, there are other thoroughbreds in the Horn corral that can contribute especially now that they’ve been honed by a full year of fierce competition.
Cayse Barry (106), Tanner Dendy (113), Trevor Anderson (132), Tate Sweeney (145), Dakota McNeeley (152), Jake Ames (182) and Tito Vega (195) all have the potential to add team points to the Horn scoreboard.
All the PHS wrestlers, however, will face stiff competition in both section and division tournaments because both frays pit the finest in the sport against one another.
Coaches around the state consider Josh Kramer, 106, Verrado; Ted Rico, 113, Combs; Gave Galaviz, 120, Coconino; Fernando Carrasco, 126, Thunderbird; Ryan Vandall, 132, Moon Valley; Austin Gaines, 138, Moon Valley; Marky Lopez, 145, Rio Rico; Chase Reams, 152, Mingus; Bryson Echols, 160, Sabino; Jerome Crowther, 170, Coconino; Jorge Robles, 182, Sahuarita; Austin Beanland, 220, Yougker; and Jared Krall, heavyweight, Coconino; to be among the best in D-III.
Of those, Payson fans received and up close and personal look at Combs’ Rico in December when he won the 113-pound title at the Payson Invitational tournament.