FARMINGTON — Wes Rayburn's wrestling career for Piedra Vista is off to a solid start.
The eighth-grader finished in second place at 113 pounds during the 4A state championship in February, and then backed it up by earning All-American honors this past weekend in Virginia Beach, Va.
He received the distinction by placing seventh out of 66 wrestlers in the freshman 120-pound bracket at the 25th annual National High School Coaches' Association's National Wrestling Championship on Saturday.
"I wanted to place high, higher than anyone here has before," said Rayburn, who was wrestling in the national championship for the first time. "I knew a couple of kids there from other states that had placed before, and I knew I was better than them."
Rayburn said jumping up a weight class was a little bit of a challenge, but, as the tournament progressed, he began to feel more comfortable.
"The kids were bigger, but I felt better at that weight," he said.
To be named an All-American, a wrestler must place in the top eight of his weight class.
Rayburn had a battle in his consolation match to secure a top-eight place, escaping with a 4-3 victory against a wrestler from Ohio.
"That was a barn burner match," Rayburn's coach Levi Stout said. "Anytime they can experience a high level, high intensity back-and-forth match, it just makes them more comfortable on the mat in any tournament."
The PV wrestler said that despite the accomplishments early in his career, he isn't satisfied with a second-place finish at state or a seventh-place finish at nationals and plans to continue to improve.
"It was better than state for me," he said of the national championship. "I'm going to work harder this summer to try and get back there."
Rayburn could have a tough task on his hands if he wrestles in the same weight class as Capital's Jose Tapia again.
Tapia defeated Rayburn in the 113-pound final at state and then won the freshman 106-pound National Championship, but Stout said seeing Tapia's success will just make Rayburn work even harder.
"I think it made him a little more hungry," Stout said. "He's mentioned several times that he'd like to go to Jose's weight class next year. Wes likes to challenge himself, and he wants that high level of competition all the time."