The Morenci school district has lured away one of Payson High School’s finest coaches.
Casey Woodall, who has been the PHS wrestling coach for three years, turned in his resignation late last week to athletic director Don Heizer, telling him he had accepted Morenci’s employment offer.
When Woodall was hired at PHS in May of 2010, then athletic director Rob Varner lauded him saying, “All indications from the people I have spoken to about Casey is that we hit a gold mine.”
Outgoing PHS wrestling coach Travis Koppenhafer called Woodall, “One of the best men I know.”
Rocky Berry, a former PHS state champion and current wrestling assistant coach called the loss of Woodall, “A huge blow.”
Woodall is a native of Morenci and was a two-time state wrestling champion at the town’s high school.
After graduating from Morenci he went to Adams State College where he was a two-time 197-pound All-American.
Prior to arriving in Payson, he was head wrestling coach at Benson High School, guiding the team to several top-five state finishes.
When Woodall first arrived in Payson, then-football coach Byron Quinlan tried to convince him to join the gridiron staff as an assistant.
Although Woodall had football playing and coaching experience, he declined, deciding to devote all his attention to wrestling.
At Payson High, Woodall was known for his integrity and work ethic in his efforts to rebuild the wrestling program into the powerhouse it once was.
The key to success, he often said, was a comprehensive summer and off-season program.
During his first summer at PHS, he teamed with Koppenhafer to host an Intensive Wrestling Camp that served as a foundation for grapplers to better their skills.
Later he founded the Junior Wrestling Club for aspiring wrestlers from 7 years of age and up.
He said his goal in hosting the program was “to get kids to fall in love with a sport that will help teach them life lessons and build character throughout their lives.”
Woodall’s efforts to rebuild the once proud program appeared to be paying dividends last winter when the Horns wrestled to a state seventh-place finish among D-III’s 42 schools.
Payson’s 66 points was just one point behind sixth place Moon Valley and only 16 less than fifth place Campo Verde.
The team accomplished all that despite having a team member who was a state title contender being disqualified for a skin condition.
At state, Woodall also helped coach Conner Anderson to the 160-pound state weight class championship.
When contacted by the Payson Roundup for comments on his leaving, Woodall said he would issue a statement in the near future.