Sixteen wins and four losses.
Payson’s wrestling team is enjoying a strong campaign with just three weeks remaining before the Feb. 8 section tournament in Winslow.
“We’re doing alright,” said first-year head coach Zach Lee. “I wouldn’t say we’re doing super great, but we’re doing alright.”
The Longhorns added two more victims at Cottonwood Mingus on Jan. 8, beating the host Marauders 52-21 and Kayenta Monument Valley 72-12.
The record is more impressive when you realize that three of the Division III Longhorns’ losses have come against bigger schools — Division II Tempe Marcos de Niza (42-27), Tolleson (46-30) and Goodyear Desert Edge (37-36 decided on a tie-breaker) on Dec. 13-14. Div. III Flagstaff Coconino handed them their other loss by a 45-25 score on Dec. 11. They’ve won their other 10 duals with Division III and IV schools.
PHS is 4-0 against Division I schools, beating Scottsdale Chaparral, Goodyear Millennium, Avondale Westview and Phoenix North. The Horns have gone 2-3 against Div. II, beating Buckeye Verrado twice.
PHS has posted the strong record despite forfeiting at two weights in most duals. The Longhorns don’t have anyone at 170 or 220 pounds.
But team duals don’t matter in the state tournament. That’s an individual event where the best wrestlers move on from the sectional to compete in the Div. III state tournament Feb. 13-14 at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. And the Longhorns haven’t performed quite as well in those tournaments as they have in team duals.
“It seems like at some of these bigger tournaments we could definitely be performing a little bit better down the homestretch,” Lee said. “Like at the Mile High Challenge (Jan. 3-4 at Tim’s Toyota Center), we only placed two kids and I think we were capable of placing four or five.”
Battling a formidable field in the site of the state tournament, freshman Brendan Macnab placed fifth at 106 pounds and his senior brother, Dallin, was sixth at 132.
Not only did Brendan Macnab finish higher than any other PHS wrestler in Prescott Valley a couple of weeks ago, his performance was all the more impressive considering he suffered a broken nose his second match on the final day of the tournament when he and his opponent both shot at their foe at the same time and Macnab’s nose smashed into his opponent’s forehead. He managed to continue the match and went on to wrestle three more and place.
“That’s a pretty tough task,” Lee said. “That’s pretty impressive. He had two bloody nostrils. He had a doctor set his nose after that match and he put a face mask on and just kept wrestling. His nose kept bleeding. We were lucky we didn’t run out of blood time (you’re allowed five minutes per match to tend to injuries). But we got the bleeding stopped in every match and he wrestled well.”
But Lee said the Longhorns could have had more kids place.
“I guess nobody’s ever completely happy,” the coach said. “There’s just stuff we can work on and keep improving. I always want to do better. And I think we’re capable of doing better. Just trying to find the way to get the kids there is gonna be the trick, I think.”
They’ll get a chance to improve as they play host to 16 other teams in the Payson Invitational today-Saturday. It’ll be the Longhorns’ first action on the home mats since opening the season with wins over Winslow and Show low on Dec. 4. It’s one of only three home events all season. The final one comes Wednesday afternoon with a multiple-team dual.
Lee said seniors Dallin Macnab (26-5 at 132) and Tate Sweeney (24-6 at 145) and juniors Chase Elmer (21-7 at 138) and Trevor Anderson (18-7 at 126) have performed well this season and made the four weights between 126-145 a team strength.
“Definitely our upperclassmen are doing well and scoring points for us,” he said.
But he added that the two-pound allowance, which adds two pounds to the weight class beginning in January, has helped strengthen the top of the lineup.
Brendan Macnab, who is 20-10, has dropped down from 113 to 106 pounds. Sophomore Dylan Keeney is 20-7. He has gone down from 120 to 113, opening up a spot at 120 for sophomore Gabe Hernandez.
“In our lower weights, we kind of shifted the weight classes around,” Lee said. “Everybody went down a weight class, then there was a hole for Gabe to go in. So, that definitely strengthened our lineup. Those guys are doing well for us.”
He said the moves were natural.
“That’s the weight class they were meant to be in,” Lee said. “We weren’t really having to cut at the weight class we were at. And, with the extra two pounds, we only had to lose another pound or two. So, it wasn’t really a big deal.”
Jan. 8 at Cottonwood Mingus
Payson 52, Cottonwood Mingus 21
106 - Brendan Macnab (P) pinned Mikey Joneas :45; 113 - Dylan Keeney (P) pinned Jacob Suekawa 5:13; 120 - Gabe Hernandez (P) forfeit; 126 - Trevor Anderson (P) pinned Kyle Creech; 132 - Dallin Macnab (P) pinned Garrett Storie; 138 - Chase Elmer (P) major dec. Nathan Petty 12-4; 145 - Tate Sweeny (P) pinned Dakota Hanks; 152 - Nathan Cluff (P) pinned Devin Buck; 160 - Dylan Wilber (M) pinned Isaiah Skinner; 170 - Ethan Kim (M) forfeit; 182 - Tito Vega (P) forfeit; 195 - Andre May (M) dec. Pedro Chavez 10-4; 220 - double forfeit; 285 - Wyatt Midkiff (M) pinned Steve Perry.
Payson 72, Monument Valley 12
106 - Brendan Macnab (P) pinned Myron Harison; 113 - Dylan Keeney (P) forfeit; 120 - Gabe Hernandez (P) pinned Bryan Moreno; 126 - Trevor Anderson (P) pinned Xavier Hunt; 132 - Dallin Macnab (P) pinned Bryce Gonnie; 138 - Chase Elmer (P) pinned Dimetri Ellis; 145 - Tate Sweeny (P) pinned Clayton Bryant; 152 - Nathan Cluff (P) pinned Kendric Phillips; 160 - Isaiah Skinner (P) pinned Terrell Blackgoat; 170 - Lakota Laughter (M) forfeit; 182 - Tito Vega (P) forfeit; 195 - Pedro Chavez (P) forfeit; 220 - Julian Begay (M) forfeit; 285 - Steve Perry (P) forfeit.