By MIKE MENDEZ
10:37 PM CST, January 5, 2013
For the Arkansas City Bulldogs, the momentum of a state championship has carried over to this season. With 185.5 points and a team win in the Derby Invitational, one of the toughest tournaments around, coach Greg Buckbee has to feel good about how his team is wrestling. And although the team took a state title last season, there has been no letdown. In fact, it has served as a motivator with some unfinished business left on the mat last February.
“It was bittersweet,” said Ark City senior Cody Eastman of the lack of an individual state title last year. “We all wanted those individual ones but we all came up short, at least three guys did, including me. And I know that is what we are striving for now, including the team one.”
Eastman was the lone Bulldog to win an individual title in Derby, but a strong lineup throughout all the weights gave Ark City a 15.5-point lead over second place Garden City to win the tournament.
“The tougher the competition, the better you get for state,” Buckbee said about the level of competition in Derby. “The state tournament is always tough. We try to pick out the toughest tournaments. The Derby tournament is just an awesome tournament. We’ve been going to it for, 100 years I think.”
The tournament finals kicked off with Garden City wrestler Michael Prieto showing why his weekend of work earned him the most outstanding wrestler award for the tournament. At 106 pounds, Prieto took down Ark City’s Logan Terrill at will to get a 7-2 decision.
“It means a lot to me,” said Prieto of his most outstanding wrestler award. “I have to thank my teammates for pushing me every day at practice, and my coaches, especially my dad. I’ve wrestled (Terrill) before. He is a real tough kid. He’s always going to be tough, just an all-around good wrestler. He makes me better every time I wrestle him.”
At 113 pounds, last year’s 106-pound state champion Sean Deshazer continued to let the state know the Deshazer legacy at Wichita Heights is in good hands. The Falcon dominated Joey Defore from Ark City in a 13-5 major decision.
Heights wasn’t the only school in Derby with a 106-pound state champion. Goddard’s Dakota Leach made the jump up to 120 pounds and had Heights’ Armond McCray backing up for most of the match. An escape and a takedown later, Leach picked up a win in the finals with a 3-0 decision.
Chris Burley from Great Bend took advantage of a couple of takedowns in the 126-pound final for a 5-2 decision over El Dorado’s Bryce Morgan.
Rose Hill’s Jake Wilson came into the 132-pound final with an unblemished record. But Tevin Briscoe from Garden City was too much for Wilson, handing the Rocket grappler his first defeat of the season with a 14-4 major decision.
Great Bend’s Kade Sander faced a tall test in the 138-pound final, squaring off against defending state champion AJ Hurtado from Garden City. Sander had Hurtado in trouble, leading 1-0 before Hurtado scored a late reversal to get a 2-1 win.
At 145-pounds, Eastman gave Ark City its only individual champion with an 8-2 decision over El Dorado’s Austin Hughey. It was Hughey that struck first in the match with a takedown, but Eastman kept his cool and picked up some near fall points to get the win.
“At first I was kind of worried,” said Eastman. “He got the first two on me and then I was just fighting back the whole time. I just started getting some back points I guess, and started feeling a little bit better about the match.”
Ben Becker was Derby’s only representative in the finals, and defended his home well with a 9-3 win over Ark City’s Michael Helms at 152 pounds. The win preserved Becker’s undefeated record on the year.
At 160 pounds, Wichita South’s Kalin Collins executed a double-leg takedown to perfection against Great Bend’s Bryce Hofmeister. Collins picked Hofmeister up and brought him down hard on his back for a stunning pin.
Anthony Gardner from Garden City matched up with Bishop Carroll freshman Christopher Dugan at 170 pounds. Gardner, a fifth-place finisher at state last year was too much for the freshman, cruising to a 16-4 major decision.
Valley Center’s Chad Blair had no trouble staying undefeated on the year, facing Nick Nolting from Bishop Carroll at 182 pounds. Blair scored points at will, picking up a 10-0 major decision.
In the 195-pound final, Chaparral’s Ben Smithey picked up a huge reversal when his opponent, Sam Reyes from Garden City, was going for back points. Smithey slipped out and got on top for two points in a 6-3 decision.
Luke Weldon stayed undefeated for Valley Center, getting a 6-3 win over Dylan Cox from Ark City at 220 pounds.
In a battle of undefeated heavyweights, Chaparral’s Clay Wilcox ended the tournament with a bang, handing Winfield’s Josh Horn his first loss of the year with a pin.
Copyright © 2013, Catch It Kansas