Payson High wrestling coach Casey Woodall oozes confidences over his current Longhorn team insisting the squad will be a memorable one by the time the season tournament wraps up in two weeks at the state finals in Prescott Valley.
“Our team is a great group of kids who are working hard and doing everything we ask,” he said. “We are starting to get some momentum built up and feel like we are on track to peak in the sectional and state tournaments.
“The future of Payson wrestling is looking bright.”
Some of the coach’s optimism stems from the team’s standout showing Jan. 23 during a four-way meet at Blue Ridge High School in Lakeside.
There, the Horns finished with a 3-1 dual match record defeating Blue Ridge 60-18, Holbrook 61-18, Globe 51-5 and falling to Snowflake 39-36.
In the narrow loss to Snowflake, both teams finished with seven wins each, but Payson recorded five pins and the Lobos had four.
The difference on the scoreboard, however, can be attributed to the Longhorns forfeiting the heavyweight division because PHS did not have a wrestler to fill the slot.
In the White Mountains, Dallin Macnab (120), Conner Anderson (160), Kyle Brown (170), William McCrary (126), Anselmo Vasquez (220) and Chase Elmer (138) all finished with 4-0 records prompting Woodall to praise the grapplers for, “Looking very tough.”
Anderson was particularly impressive, whipping Division III third-ranked Jacob Lewis of Snowflake and Division IV’s No. 3 ranked wrestler from Globe.
Currently Anderson is the second ranked 160-pounder in the state, behind only Tucson Sabino’s Bryson Echols. If the upcoming section and division tournaments unfold as anticipated, the two could meet for the state title.
Also in Arizona wrestling rankings, Macnab is fourth ranked, McCrary is fifth in his weight division and Chase Elmer is sitting sixth.
In the rough and tumble skirmish in Lakeside vs. Snowflake, Macnab pinned Kodie Bateman, McCrary pinned Angel Pino and Elmer decisioned Isaiah Diaz 4-2.
During Brown’s undefeated run at BRHS, he pinned Snowflake’s Zach Winder, but found himself locked in a toe-to-toe tussle against Holbrook’s Kevin Self. Eventually, Brown came out on top 6-3.
Vasquez had two big-time wins by falls in the tournament, pinning Michael Spurlock of Snowflake and Holbrook’s C.J. Plumb.
With the section tournament just over the horizon, the Longhorn matmen appear primed and ready to make their mark in the finals and earn berths into the Division III state finals.
But to succeed as a team, the Horns need to find a grappler to fill the heavyweight division so as not to give up forfeit points.
If a heavyweight cannot be found, the other 13 wrestlers in the lineup need to pile up as many wins with pins as possible to stockpile the points needed to overcome the forfeit.