Garden City tore throughevery team it faced this season. The Buffaloes were never done. They grinded through the season and went through the regular ups and downs and focused on one thing only: a state championship.
Saturday at Hartman Arena in Park City outside Wichita, Garden City won what it hadn’t won since 1999.
“My first year as a head coach for Garden City, and my son is my first state champion,” said head coach Carlos Prieto. “I'm really, really excited, and very, very proud to call Michael my son. He's just an amazing kid. Love him to death."
Garden City won the 6A state championship with a score of 173.5. Junction City took second with 125.5 points. Derby finished third with 117.5 points, Wichita Northwest was fourth with 107.5 points and Gardner-Edgerton rounded out the top five with 106.5 points.
Click to see complete results from 6A & 5A.
Michael Prieto of Garden City got things started on the right foot as Prieto took control of his match early against Olathe Northwest’s Doug Newcomb.
In the 106-pound weight class, Preito was more than aggressive in the opening seconds. In doing so, he established a 7-0 lead one minute into the match. It seemed that whenever he got Newcomb on his back, he wasn’t letting him up.
Click here to view photos from the 6A state championship tournament.
All through the second period Newcomb tried and tried to get something going and even into the third period, nothing was going for him. Midway through the third, Newcomb picked up his intensity and went for Prieto’s legs, but the 106-pounder jumped back every time.
The 7-0 lead built in the first minute of the opening match held for the rest of the match.
“We wanted this team title ever since the preseason started,” said the younger Prieto. “That’s been our one goal. We have a big sign in our room of our goal and it says ‘Win State.’ We finally accomplished that goal and it means everything to us.”
It’s fitting that Prieto won in that manner. Friday, the Buffaloes built a comfortable lead atop the 6A leaderboard with 80.5 points, 18.5 points ahead of second-place Junction City. Once Garden City built that lead, it didn’t let up.
Prieto stayed consistent, kept the course laid out for him. That was Garden City’s approach. Get a lead, keep the lead.
“My dad has showed us a couple texts that said Garden City is going to fall at state,” said Prieto. “They always do. Every day, my dad tells us, we're ranked one so we have to push harder at practice. Our guys work extremely hard in practice. We've got the toughest room in the state of Kansas, I believe. We want that hardware.”
132 pounder Tevin Briscoe did the same thing. A takedown of Wichita Northwest’s Dylan Beckner and nearly pinning him gave him a 4-0 lead. But Beckner kept at it as he went for double-leg takedowns and escapes.
But Briscoe’s technique and fundamentals were too much as he built his lead to 11-0 that turned into a 13-3 lead that turned into a state championship in 132 pounds.
“I just took it like a normal match,” said Briscoe. “You never know what can happen. You just go out there and wrestle your normal match. That's my mat. I got out there to dominate.
Not everything was a walk for Garden City, though. In 138, Dodge City’s Dane Edwards met Garden City’s AJ Hurtado in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 match.
Everything was close, even knotted up, through the first period. Then Edwards decided it was his state championship that Hurtado was standing in front of.
Edwards turned it on; went to another level. He nearly pinned Hurtado on more than one occasion and built a 5-1 lead. These are two guys that wrestle in the same league and everyone knew who they wanted in the state championship match.
“We've wrestled each other since freshman year,” said Edwards. “That was the second time I've beat him. The first time was at a home dual. I was definitely out to get him.”
Edwards won the 138-pound state championship by a score of 11-1.
Garden City’s Trevor Kennedy had a tough draw as he found Andrew Millsap bearing down on the mat against him. The Junction City grappler had been ranked No. 1 in 145 pounds for most of the season, but Kennedy simply didn’t care.
Millsap got an early reversal and kept trying for a takedown, but Kennedy kept a wide stance that prevented Millsap from getting it. After two periods, Millsap held a 2-1 lead and Kennedy picked up his intensity in the third.
However, Kennedy needed more than intensity and he didn’t get it as Millsap took home the 145-pound belt 5-1.
Derby’s Ben Becker and Northwest’s Saul Ortiz were on the same level Saturday, as points were a rarity in the championship match. Ortiz put up the first mark as Becker was warned twice about false starts. The third false start gave Ortiz a point.
Ortiz kept starting down and, in an attempt to escape, would pull away from Becker. But, Becker would hang on tight every time and the two would go out of bounds. The two spent almost as much time out of bounds than they did inside the ring.
When the whistle blew to start the third period, both wrestlers looked up at the referee, not sure what to do. But when Becker realized nothing was wrong, he sprung up out of the grasp of Ortiz and was given one point for the escape.
“Just nervous. Anxious. Just real jumpy,” said Becker. “I wanted to stop that first move. I always try to time the whistle. That match I just wasn't very good at it.”
Northwest head coach Eric Prichard jumped out of his seat and moved immediately to the scorer’s table. After a relatively short discussion, the point was taken off the board. But Becker got it back with a minute and a half left in the third to tie the match.
In the final seconds, Becker went hard for a takedown and Ortiz just barely pulled him out of bounds to avoid the two points that would have given him the championship.
The first overtime held true to the regulation time of the match, as nobody scored. In the second overtime, though, Becker was able to get an escape, but Ortiz had a chance to match in the third overtime.
Ortiz squirmed and turned and went this way and that, but couldn’t escape Becker’s grasp. Becker then ran to the side of the mat, flexed and pointed to the Derby section to celebrate his 152-pound state championship.
“Greatest feeling I have ever felt in my entire life. Hands down,” said Becker.
Ortiz’s Grizzly teammate Michael Lindlar wrestled in the 113-pound weight class all season until the regional tournament in Hutchinson. He then wrestled in the 120-pound bracket, meaning he would wrestle 120 in the state tournament.
Lindlar lost to Wichita Heights’ Sean DeShazer three times this season in the weight class. Lindlar was ranked No. 2 in 120 and didn’t have to go through the wrecking ball that was DeShazer to get to the championship round.
Standing between him and a state title was Junction City’s Kevin Perez. Lindlar went up 1-0 early, but Perez took the lead 2-1 with a reversal. Lindlar got one back to send the match to overtime tied at two.
Perez acted quickly, as he got a takedown in the first 16 seconds for the 4-2 120-pound state championship win.
DeShazer met Derby’s Cody McDonald in the state championship and went to work. He never trailed and set the tone early when he and McDonald were locked and DeShazer snapped down and got a takedown to go up 6-2.
DeShazer built it back up to 10-4 and eventually won 19-8 for his second-straight championship.
“Last year, since it was my first title, I wasn't used to it,” said DeShazer. “I was more excited with it. This year, it's like 'oh, it's another one.' I'm still excited with it because I'm one step closer to winning four.”
Maize’s Brett Moon and Olathe North’s Blake Stovall have begun what could be a great rivalry. Both are freshmen and both are the same weight. The two have been battling for the top spot in the rankings all season and finally met in the finals to settle it.
Stovall got out to a quick 2-0 lead and didn’t look back. He kept the pedal on the floor and held a 6-2 lead after the first period. Moon tried to get back in it, but Stovall was just too much. Stovall took home the state championship with an 8-2 win over Moon.
In the 285-pound class Topeka’s Will Geary had a death grip on the top spot in 6A. Nobody even remotely touched him at the top, and he showed why Saturday evening at Hartman Arena in Park City.
From the starting whistle to the end of the first period, Geary dominated Blue Valley West’s Nadir Zayyad. He got two takedowns within the first minute to go up 4-1. That lead turned into a 12-2 lead with 15 seconds left.
“I just went after him, and stuff happened,” said Geary.
Then, he took Zayyad down one last time and left him there with five seconds left in the period. Geary pinned him for the 285-pound state championship.