Dennis Pirch attended Mesa Community College from 1966 to 1968, and earned an Associate of Arts degree while competing on MCC’s inaugural wrestling team led by Coach Joe Nix. A starter at 145 pounds, as a sophomore Dennis qualified for the junior college national tournament. With a goal to coach, which back then required a teaching certificate, Dennis sought and received an athletic scholarship to Northern Arizona University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education.
Graduating from NAU, he accepted a position at Payson High School to teach American History and started the school’s first wrestling program in 1973. Over the next 28 years, he became a symbol of excellence in the 3A level wrestling programs of Arizona and a Payson community legend. During Dennis’s coaching years, the Payson Longhorns were the Arizona 3A State Wrestling Champions seven times (1993, 1994, and 1996 through 2000). The five years of back-to-back titles was a remarkable period of dominance by his Payson teams. The high school was also the Arizona State Runners-Up four times. Dennis leads Arizona prep wrestling coaches with 10 state team titles. The Payson team also took 1A/2A state titles in 1981 and 1980.
Dennis was inducted into the Arizona Coaches Association Hall of Fame for leading the successes over the 30 years in the Payson High School program he founded. He was named the 1997 U.S. High School Coach of the Year and is a member of the Arizona Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
For a link to the full video of the ceremony, please visit MCC Hall of Fame 2022.