Coming into the City League tournament, Wichita Northwest coach Eric Prichard and the Grizzlies had to be feeling pretty good about things. With an undefeated record in the duals, a league title was there for the taking. But a young Bishop Carroll team, hungry to return the school to glory showed up at the end of the tournament to nip Northwest by 3.5 points and split the league title with 17 overall points.
“My hat’s off to Northwest,” said Carroll coach Mark Stovall. “They wrestled well. This is the first step of rebuilding this program; getting it back to where it previously was.”
Although Northwest wasn’t able to come away with sole possession of the title, Prichard was happy with his team’s performance, in the tournament and in the duals.
“We are not going to look down on this,” said Prichard. “Every time you can go 8-0 in the duals and be a part of a City League championship, we’ll take it every year.”
Entering the finals, the Grizzlies had a lead over Carroll. But along the way, Carroll picked up enough wins, and got 6 total bonus points with championship pins from Devin Moore, Nick Nolting, and Tommy Marquez to push the Golden Eagles final team point total to 164.5. Northwest was just shy with 161.
“The pins are awesome because you get 2 points, bonus, for the pins,” said Stovall. “We were short one or two wrestlers that didn’t perform to their best abilities and when the team is getting bonus points that makes up a lot of difference.”
5A No. 4 Andrew Eagan got things rolling in the finals with a 3-point nearfall over Desmond Martinez from Wichita Heights that helped Eagan become a City League champion at 106 pounds by decision.
Up next at 113 pounds, was the marquee match of the tournament, and a possible preview of the state finals at Hartman Arena. 6A No. 1 Sean Deshazer from Heights and 6A No. 2 Michael Lindlar from Northwest took the mat to put on an early show. It didn’t take long for Deshazer to steal that show. The Heights grappler took down Lindlar seemingly at will to pick up a major decision.
Heights kept the ball rolling at 120 pounds, the two wrestlers tied for No. 6 in the 6A coaches rankings took the mat. A takedown gave Heights’ Armond McCray an early advantage, but Northwest’s Joey Alberts mounted a comeback. Heights coach Mike Church made a stern plea for McCray to pick up the intensity, and McCray got the message. A late takedown sealed a decision victory for McCray.
The Falcons got three-in-a-row with a Greg Jones decision at 126. Jones, ranked No. 3 in 6A, stuffed a late takedown attempt from Kapaun’s Jacob Mills to seal the win.
Kapaun picked up another championship at 132 with the takedown prowess of 5A. No. 6 Patrick Burrus who made a major decision look easy against 6A No. 3 Dylan Beckner from Northwest.
Maybe the most thrilling match of the night came at 138 pounds between Northwest’s Dylan Brazell, and Joel Sponsel from Bishop Carroll. Wrestling not only for individual championships, but for valuable team points, Sponsel had a 1-point lead over Brazell, and was riding in the final minute. Brazell escaped to tie the match, and left just enough time for both wrestlers to end it in regulation. Brazell shot and grabbed Sponsel’s left leg. Sponsel showed good takedown defense at first, but made a mistake to give Brazell the leverage to score 2 points and win right before the final buzzer.
At 145, Devin Moore became the first Carroll wrestler to give the Golden Eagles 2 crucial bonus points with a pin over Wichita East’s Earnest Caldwell. The Moore win set off a chain reaction of falls that didn’t end until the tournament did.
Northwest’s Saul Ortiz, No. 3 ranked in 6A, went to the mat at 152 pounds and stole the Moore bonus points right back with a pin over East’s Will Burrows.
Wichita South and Wichita West squared off in the next two bouts. At 160, No. 2 Kalin Collins from South pinned No. 6 Jesse Oliver from West. The Pioneers returned the favor at 170 pounds when West’s Trevon Mitchell, No. 6 in 5A pinned Wichita South’s DeAndre Tipton.
At 182 pounds, Carroll got its second set of bonus points when Nick Nolting pinned 6A No. 3 Rakim Dean. Tommy Marquez gave Carroll back-to-back pins, sticking Cristian Martinez from Heights at 195 pounds.
A pair of ranked 6A wrestlers met at 220 pounds with No. 2 Caleb Franklin from Wichita North pinned No. 5 Jordan Bell from Northwest.
South’s big boy, No. 6 Dillon Young ended the finals with a pin over Northwest’s John Gilbertson, sealing the team win for the Golden Eagles.
“It was a complete team effort,” said Stovall. “Even with a couple falters, we had some kids step up and surpass their seeds and just wrestled hard as a team; not giving up bonus and working for bonus the whole time.”