Prep Wrestling: Vols trio advances to Division III State Championship
KINGMAN – Consistency is key in any program and the Lee Williams High School wrestling team is proving that to be true as it will send three grapplers to state for the second consecutive season.
Brothers Jimmy and Payton Wayman will join Zach Dixon Thursday for the Division III State Championship at Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
“Wrestling is one of those sports where we experience something that no other sports do – so on that note, to have three kids get through to state is really exciting,” said Vols head coach Dan Ondrejka. “I’m really excited about this team as whole. We have a really young team and a lot of growing to do ahead of us, but we can be something special.”
Kingman High will also have a grappler at the inaugural girls state tournament as sophomore Kalie Lawhon will wrestle at 135.
Lawhon won’t be the only one in unfamiliar territory though, as Dixon and Payton are making their first trip to state.
Dixon advanced to the biggest stage of them all by pulling off an upset in his final match at the sectional tournament at Winslow High.
“I felt like I had it in me,” Dixon said. “But a lot of the support and work from my teammates getting to that point really made it so I could win that match.”
Meanwhile, the Wayman brothers knew this was a dream in the making as soon as they started wrestling.
“My dad and everyone around me had huge hopes for me and my brother because of how much we push each other,” Payton said. “They just knew that we would go to state someday.”
Jimmy will have the best route to winning a state championship as the junior is the No. 2 seed in the 145 pound bracket after winning his second straight sectional title.
“It was pretty nice, honestly, because it shows me I’ve gotten a lot better,” Jimmy said. “And the fact that I walked through a sectional tournament, it shows me where I’m at.”
But it hasn’t come without lots of hard work and dedication since Jimmy won two matches at state last February.
“From the moment state was over last year, this is the moment that I’ve been waiting for,” Jimmy said. “All I’ve trained for all summer and all offseason has been for this tournament.”
And he’ll have plenty of support from a teammate who just missed the cut.
“I told one of my closest friends Michael (Mazon), ‘If I have win state or take whatever at state, that’s on you man,’” Jimmy said. “He’s been my training partner forever. Even if he didn’t make it, he’s kind of living on through me.”
And the other Vols seniors will also try to live vicariously through the Wayman brothers and Dixon when they take the mat.
“It’s always heartbreaking to have your seniors not to make it all the way,” Ondrejka said. “But they left it all out on the mat. We could tell they gave it everything they could to try to make it and they couldn’t. It’s always a tear-jerker, but at the end of the day you hug them, they move on and hopefully they take something they learned in wrestling and apply it to something later in life – which I know they’ll be able to.”