Story and photo by Herman Andrews Jr.
This year has been a great year for the Safford Wrestling Club. It started after the Safford Middle School and Safford High School Wrestling teams both won state. The off-season began with the national qualifier for Fargo. Dawon Andrews, Chase Umphres, Bailey Sanford and Ryne Lewis winning the national qualifier, Zach Sias was runner-up and Sean Ticer was fourth.
From there the team moved on to the USAW Folkstyle Cadet National Championships held in Iowa at the UNI campus. Dawon Andrews finished 5th place and Ryne Lewis finished 6th place making them All-Americans. The team then traveled to the Reno World Folkstyle Championships in Nevada. The club took a small team of 15 and under to compete with the best talent around. That tournament was a real test and the young guys wrestled really well with a few just finishing out of the All-American round. Dawon Andrews came away with the only All-American honors as he finished 4th place.
With very little rest in-between the team traveled back to Nevada this time to make a stop in Sin City to wrestle in the USAW Las Vegas Cadet Open. In this tournament the club took three guys to compete in Greco, Freestyle and Folkstyle. Dawon Andrews took the Triple Crown winning all three styles. Chase Umphres took the championship in Freestyle and Folkstyle and a runner-up in Greco. Ryne Lewis was runner up in Greco and Freestyle and third in Folkstyle.
After hitting all the national tournaments the club could it returned to wrestle in the Arizona Freestyle and Arizona Greco State Tournaments. Dawon Andrews won Both Freestyle and Greco State Tournaments. Ryne Lewis was runner-up in Freestyle and Greco. Chase Umphres was Greco State Champ and runner-up in Freestyle. Bailey Sanford was runner-up in both Greco and Freestyle. Zach Sias was third in Freestyle.
Fargo, the biggest stage and the end of a season tournament, decided the best of the best in Greco and Freestyle. Dawon Andrews was the Greco National Champion not allowing any points to be scored on him. He teched and pinned his way through to the finals were he won 3-0. Dawon Andrews then turned around with one days rest and wrestled in the Freestyle Tournament and finished 8th to make him a Double All-American for this tournament. Chase Umphres finished 6th in a very tuff field in Greco making him an All-American. Also having great matches were Ryne Lewis, Bailey Sanford and Zach Sias. Lewis beat two kids that were ranked in his 160 pound weight class.