Buffs place 5th as team; 2 capture individual titles
It wasn’t your typical Rocky Welton Invitational by any standard, but the eight teams that did compete Saturday at The Garden provided more than enough entertainment for the fans that were able to attend.
Normally the RW hosts a field of between 35 to 40 teams, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, only eight teams were permitted in the field.
The host Garden City Buffaloes had a few highlights, a few struggles and some encouragement by unexpected wrestlers as head coach Carlos Prieto analyzed the Buffs’ fifth-place showing with 140.5 points. That put them within 9.5 points of third-place and Kansas top-ranked Goddard’s 149.5 points.
Dodge City continued to show its depth in its roster and took home the Rocky Welton championship team plaque by scoring 186.5 points while Kearney, Neb., a Cornhusker state power, took second with 157.5 points. Newton slipped into the fourth spot at 144 points, making the race for 3-4-5th places quite close.
“I thought there were some positives and a few negatives as well,” Prieto said after the tournament’s conclusion. “It wasn’t the traditional Rocky Welton, but I thought the teams that came certainly brought a lot of quality wrestlers and there were many good matches.”
The Buffs did bring home a pair of gold-medal performances as junior Erick Dominguez won all three of his matches at 138-pounds with the title coming over Great Bend’s Wyatt Weber, one of the top-ranked Class 5A wrestlers. Dominguez earned a solid 5-1 decision in his victory. Also at 138, the Buffs’ backup at the weight, Salvador Bustos, took third with a 3-1 record, only losing to Weber in the semifinals.
“We had several of our junior varsity wrestlers who placed in the top five and that does show that we have some depth at some of the weights,” Prieto said.
The other champion came from freshman Sebastian Lopez at 285 pounds. Lopez had one of the dramatic wins of the day, getting a 1-0 escape in the ultimate tiebreaker after the match had been scoreless through three periods and two, 1-minute overtime periods. Lopez got an escape from his bottom position to get the triumph over Newton’s Rio Gomez, who had entered the match with a 24-3 record.
“Sebastian’s the real deal,” Prieto said of his rookie who now owns at 15-4 season record. “For a freshman coming in at 285, it’s not common to win the Welton. The last one who did that I think was Colton Schultz (High School All-American), who now wrestles collegiately.”
Angel Bustos-Bravo placed fifth at 113 pounds by posting a 2-2 record. Senior Steven Sellers pinned Tjaden Simmons of Newton at 4:39 of the third period to take third place at 145 pounds. Teammate Salvador Bustos placed fifth at that weight.
Sophomore Colin Kleysteuber also went 2-2 and placed fifth at 152 pounds. Ben Dunlap took fourth at 170 pounds with a 2-2 mark. At 182 pounds, Alan Chairez had a strong outing, going 3-1 and taking third when he earned a 6-4 decision over Dodge City’s Josh Gonzales.
“I thought Angel (Bustos) had a great day and he pinned a kid from Dodge City to make that extra special,” Prieto said. “We’re getting better, but we’ve got plenty of things to work on over the next two weeks.”
Missing from the RW was sophomore Ryan Heiman at 126 pounds, who suffered an injury in Friday night’s dual match with Scottsbluff, Neb. His return time is uncertain, Prieto said.
Also on Saturday, senior Josh Janas suffered an unknown injury in the first few seconds of his championship match with Marcelino Otero of Dodge City. The match was over at 0:12 by virtue of a fall, but Janas sustained the injury just moments before getting pinned. It was a tough way for the day to end for Janas, who came in as the No. 1 seed and No. 1-ranked 160-pounder in Class 6A. He had dominated Otero by an 11-0 major decision in the teams’ WAC dual match 11 days earlier.
“We’ve got to do everything we can to get Josh healed up because we’ll certainly need him for regionals and beyond,” Prieto said.
The Buffs will return to the mat on Thursday when they travel to Hays for a 6 p.m. (JV) and to follow varsity WAC dual. After that, it will be Feb. 12 for the Class 6A Regional 1 at Dodge City. With a new postseason format this year, only four wrestlers advance out of the regional to a Sub-State the following week on Feb. 19. From there, just 4 wrestlers will advance to the state from the western Kansas Class 6A sub-state along with 4 from the eastern Kansas qualifier. Thus, the state will have half the number of wrestlers as they have had in the past. The Class 6A state tournament also is a one-day event, slated for Feb. 27 at Hartman Arena in Park City, just north of Wichita.
The Lady Buffs wrestling team will be looking to qualify in Class 6-5A division this year, with regionals on Feb. 13 and sub-state on Feb. 19. The state meet is also at Hartman Arena on Feb. 25.
Tourney Note: The Rocky Welton Invitational Committee dedicated the 63rd edition this year to the individual’s family for whom the tournament is named.
Rocky Welton, who coached the Buffaloes to six Class 6A state team championships, numerous individual state titles, passed away last July. In acknowledging the dedication, public address announcer Steve Mayo read a letter from one of Welton’s daughters, expressing the family’s gratitude for the honor and expressed how important Garden City had been in the life of their family.
63rd Rocky Welton Invitational
At The Garden
Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021
- Dodge City, 186.5; 2. Kearney, Neb., 157.5; 3. Goddard, 149.5; 4. Newton, 144.0; 5. Garden City, 140.5; 6. Great Bend, 119.5; 7. Scottsbluff, Neb., 108.0; 8. Valley Center, 96.5.
Garden City Individual Results
106—6. Julius Medina, 1-3; 7. Gael Terrazas, 1-2; 113—5. Angel Bustos-Bravo, 2-2; 7. Joel Contreras, 1-2; 120—7. Sammy Perez, 0-2; 6. Dakota Smith, 0-3; 132—6. Chris Brahmbhatt, 0-3; 138—1. Erick Dominguez, 3-0; Champ Match: def. Wyatt Weber, Great Bend, 5-1 dec.; 3. Sebastian Rodriguez, 3-1; 145—3. Steven Sellers, 3-1; 3rd Place: Sellers def. Tjaden Simmons, Newton, Fall, 4:39; 5. Salvador Bustos, 1-2; 152—5. Colin Kleysteuber, 2-2; 160—2. Josh Janas, 2-1. Def. Reyes, Newton, Fall, 0:53; def. Boone, Valley Center, Fall, 0:52; lost to Otero, Dodge City, Fall, 0:12; 6. Alonso Marquez, 1-3; 170—4. Ben Dunlap, 2-2; 182—3. Alan Chairez, 3-1. 3rd Place Match: def. Josh Gonzales, Dodge City, Dec., 6-4; 195—5. Sergio Garcia, 0-3 (2 bye matches); 220—5. Isaiah Barrett, 0-2 (2 byes); 285—1. Sebastian Lopez, 3-0 (15-4). Championship Match: def. Rio Gomez, Newton, 1-0, ultimate tiebreaker.