Newton and Valley Center entered Class 5A’s wrestling regional at Great Bend neck-and-neck in the rankings. In the end, the rankings held true. The No. 4 Railroaders won the event with 178.5 points. No. 5 Valley Center finished second with 158.5 points, and No. 8 Great Bend placed third with 149 points.
“The goal is still out there,” said Newton Coach Jude Wilson. “You always want to come through this one. This is one of the toughest tournaments to take because some kids end their season early. The ones who make it through, that’s part of the plan.”
Host Great Bend led the day with four regional champions. The Panthers will be sending nine wrestlers to state. Newton qualified 11 to state with three regional champions, and Valley Center will send 10 wrestlers on with three regional champs.
“Second overall is a disappointment,” Valley Center Coach Brian Shelton said. “We didn’t come here to take second, we came here to win. We had our chances. We had the same number of wrestlers in the finals that Newton did. They’re better than we are. If we want to get better and beat them, Ark City, and Andover Central, we have to elevate ourselves to their level. They’re not going to get any worse. Today, they were the better team.”
Hays junior Preston Weigel, a two-time state placer and a state champion, will head to Wichita with a perfect record at 195 pounds. Weigel won a marquee match-up against Newton’s Dillon Archer in the championship match.
106: Valley Center freshman Ryan Delforge (44-4) showed why he is the No. 3 wrestler in the state with two pins to reach the finals where he defeated Maize South freshman Rylan Kasitz 5-0. Kasitz heads to state with a 25-16 record. In the consolation match, Newton freshman Trevor Pryor (17-16) pinned Salina South junior Randall Bates. Bates still heads to Wichita with a 21-20 record.
113: Salina South junior Tyler Irwin (25-12) outscored his first two opponents by a combined 28-1 score. In the finals, he needed just one point to defeat Maize South sophomore Bryce Garcia (25-17). On the back side of the bracket, Salina Central freshman De’Khayle McFarland used a 3-0 decision against Valley Center freshman Nick Romig to finish third.
120: In the most contentious championship match of the tournament, Great Bend freshman Cody Liles took down No. 1 seed Braden Holle of Newton. The wrestlers battled back-and-forth, with the junior Holle (38-12) getting late points to force overtime. There, Liles (34-12) used a late takedown to win the regional title.
“(Holle) was seeded ahead of him and ranked ahead of him,” said Great Bend Coach Norbert Muth. “He’s in a position where he had nothing to lose and that’s how he wrestled. He just went out there and wrestled hard.”
“We lost the match, but I’m a wrestling fan and I was excited,” Shelton said. “Those kids laid it on the line.”
Salina South senior Josiah Endreshak is headed back to state after finishing third. He defeated Maize South’s Jesse Bashor 10-1 in the consolation match.
126: The championship match pitted familiar opponents from Great Bend and Newton against one another. Both Chris Burley and Quinton Harrison had already placed at state their first three years in high school, and Burley has a state title under his belt and the No. 1 ranking. No. 4 Harrison was not phased, using a duck under in the final 10 seconds of the third period to secure a 3-1 decision. Harrison heads to Wichita with a 30-7 record while Burley falls to 32-3.
“They’ve (battled) the last few years,” Wilson said. “I’m not sure who has beat more who, but Burley is a real tough kid.”
Maize South senior Jaysten McClure defeated Valley Center senior Danny Turlaki 4-2 in the consolation match.
132: Great Bend junior Greg Burley (28-4) entered as the No. 4 wrestler in 5A and cruised to a regional title with two pins and a 7-4 win against Maize South sophomore Kevin Kissane (31-7). Liberal senior Cody Smith downed Valley Center junior David Ortiz 7-2 in the third-place match.
138: Great Bend moved another ranked wrestler through the 138-pound class. Junior Kade Sander, the No. 2 wrestler in 5A, pinned his first two opponents, then blanked Salina Central sophomore Dayton Will 6-0 for the title. Sander improves to 29-2 on the year, and Will moves to 32-12. Newton senior Anthony Monares (17-7) pinned three opponents on the day, including Maize South junior Jared Hydock, for third place.
145: Salina Central freshman Dalton Peters entered the tournament as the No. 3 wrestler in the state. He did not disappoint, blanking his three opponents by a combined 18-0 to improve to 33-6 on the year. In the finals, Peters defeated Newton senior Garrett McEachern 6-0. On the other side of the bracket, Liberal senior Ayodale Briamah used a 7-2 decision against Hays senior Jake Sedbrook to secure third place. Valley Center Cameron VanDusen just missed out on a trip to state, falling to Briamah 3-2 in the last match out.
“You never want to see your seniors not go, but that kid laid it on the line,” Shelton said. “That’s the thing about wrestling. You can learn more about yourself and your abilities by losing sometime. If Cameron VanDusen puts as much effort into life as he did that match, he’s going to be a success at whatever he does.”
152: Two of the top wrestlers in the state squared off for a regional title with No. 5 Josh Ortiz getting the upset against No. 2 Trenton Wilson. The Valley Center senior Ortiz entered as the top seed, eventually beating the Liberal senior 2-1 for the title. Ortiz improves to 31-5 on the year, and Wilson falls to 34-13. Newton senior Peter Nelson also booked a trip to Wichita, defeating Hays senior Leroy Franco 8-4 for third place.
160: Great Bend senior Bryce Hofmeister entered as the No. 1 seed and the No. 3 wrestler in 5A. He picked up two more pins, including a first period fall against Valley Center’s Tony Bluml (33-15) in the finals. Hofmeiser improves to 35-11 on the season. Newton junior Heydon Mock, the No. 5 wrestler in 5A, settled for third place, pinning Maize South junior Josh Moyer.
170: Newton sophomore Jared Langley improved to 36-5 with two pins and a major decision. Langley, ranked No. 3 in 5A, pinned Salina South senior Tyler McGaha in the second period of the finals for a regional title. Hays senior Kyler Meyers (39-8) defeated Great Bend junior Darion Yager 4-2 for third place.
182: In a tough class around the state, Valley Center senior Chad Blair’s two losses on the year still have him at No. 4 in 5A. Saturday, Blair (45-2) cruised to a regional championship, outscoring his first two opponents by a combined 27-4, then defeating Salina South senior Tanner O’Donnell (32-7) 5-1 in the finals. Newton freshman Noah Ornelas defeated Great Bend junior Joe Lindenberger 7-1 in the consolation finals.
195: The 195-pound class featured three of the top six wrestlers in 5A. The rankings rang true as Hays junior Preston Weigel improved to 41-0 with three wins. He pinned his first two opponents in short order before getting a 5-0 decision against Newton senior Dillon Archer (34-3), the No. 2 wrestler in the state. Salina South senior Mike Shirk, the No. 3 wrestler in 5A, snuck by Great Bend junior Justin Henry 3-2 for third place.
220: Salina Central senior Kade True (34-3) had to get through some tough competition for his regional title. As the No. 2 seed, won a 3-1 overtime battled against Valley Center senior Luke Weldon (46-3). In the finals, True won another close match, defeating Newton junior Raymond Gallegos, the No. 6 wrestler in 5A, 1-0. Gallegos heads to state with a 33-8 record. Weldon pinned Salina South sophomore Alex Parker in the consolation finals.
285: The final match of the day featured two more ranked wrestlers. No. 6 Garrett Lee of Newton pinned Valley Center senior Zac Sander. Sander, the No. 2 wrestler in 5A, falls to 42-4 on the year. Lee pinned his final two opponents to improve to 35-6. Great Bend junior Jacob Crane handed Salina Central senior Zak Will a 7-1 decision for third place.