Dual match a prelude to Rocky Welton tourney
The month of January has been a testament of dealing with an entirely new season with many variables and distractions, not the least for the Garden City Buffaloes was a month’s delay in the campaign getting started.
But now four weeks into the season and just a month until the Class 6A state tournament, Buffaloes’ head coach Carlos Prieto said it was time for his squad, currently ranked No. 5 in its class and No. 10 for all classes, to show the heart of what it means to wear the Garden City uniform.
His point was made just minutes after his team posted a 42-36 dual match victory Friday night at The Garden, which by all means sounds good, but it is quite misleading as their opponent, Scottsbluff, Neb., had five weight classes without an opponent, providing the Buffs with 30 of the team’s 42 points.
The clinching win came from an unlikely source, too, when senior Isaiah Barrett, who has struggled in his 220-pound season, came up with a big move to pin Trenton Jenkins at 0:47 of the first period. That knotted the match score at 36-all and then 285-pound freshman Sebastian Lopez stepped on the mat to accept his forfeit to give the Buffs their final 6 points and the team win.
“We needed that to seal it, either way,” Prieto said of Barrett’s quick pin. “The reality is that we’ve got to get better. We’re giving way too many bonus points to other teams and that’s unacceptable.”
Prieto alluded to the fact that five of his wrestlers lost by pins.
“We work hard to teach the kids to wrestler with a lot of heart,” Prieto said. “We as coaches have got to find a way to get this improved with the boys. Time is running out.”
The Buffs’ primary two wins Friday night came from Barrett and also from senior 160-pounder Josh Janas who continues to impress in his final season by recording a pin of Josiah Mobley at 1:33 of the opening period.
Otherwise, Dakota Smith (120), Erick Dominguez (138), Steven Sellers (145), Alan Chairez (182) and Lopez picked up points just by showing up on the mat. Ryan Heiman had a tough match at 126 as the No. 6-ranked Kansas wrestler in 6A battled Nebraska Class B No. 1-ranked Paul Garcia but lost a 10-3 decision.
Julius Medina (106), Joel Contreras (113), Chris Brahmbhatt (132), Ben Dunlap (170) and Sergio Garcia (195) all lost by pins. Sophomore Colin Kleysteuber, ranked No. 6 in Class 6A, had one of the tightest matches of the night, losing a 6-5 heartbreaker to Frankie Trevino, who is ranked No. 10 in Nebraska.
“Simply, we’ve got to get better and we’re going to find a way to do that,” Prieto said.
The Buffs will have about 18 hours until they return to the mat when the Rocky Welton Invitational, limited this year to just 8 teams due to COVID-19 guidelines, gets under way at The Garden at noon with quarterfinal matches starting in the 106-pound division and then working upward to 285 pounds.
Teams competing are defending champion Goddard, the top-ranked Class 5A and all-class team in Kansas, Newton, Valley Center, Great Bend, Dodge City, Scottsbluff, Neb. and Kearney, Neb., along with the host Buffaloes.
After Saturday’s tournament, the Buffs’ schedule slows down. They travel to Western Athletic Conference foe Hays on Thursday, Feb. 4, for their final league dual. Then they won’t return to the mat until the Class 6A Regional 1 on Feb. 12 at Dodge City. The state is using a three-tier process, including two weekends of qualifying – the Sub-State is Feb. 19 at Wichita Heights. When all is said and done, four wrestlers from each weight class will advance to the Feb. 27 one-day state championship at Hartman Arena in Park. The other four wrestlers come from the East regional and sub-state qualifiers.