North girls bring home five individual titles, team win from SE regional

North sophomore Rodah Benji, ranked No. 3, defeated Campus sophomore Erin Jackson, ranked No....
North sophomore Rodah Benji, ranked No. 3, defeated Campus sophomore Erin Jackson, ranked No. 5, for the 115-pound regional title Saturday at Southeast. (photo by Mike Courson)(Mike Courson)
Published: Feb. 14, 2021 at 12:46 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - With fewer than 50 wrestlers at Saturday’s Div. I Regional Tournament at Wichita Southeast, just six girls faced the ends of their season. That did not make the action on the mats any less painful as one wrestler iced a bruised cheek and another grew agitated after neither opponent nor official noticed her tap out signal.

Eleven schools brought wrestlers to the regional. No Wichita school cracked the top-50 in team standings at last year’s inaugural state-wide state tournament. Saturday Wichita North claimed five individual regional titles and cruised to the team championship with 185 points. Wichita South placed second with 111 points, and seventh-ranked Salina Central edged Junction City by nine points for third with 82.

“I think we were planning on four (champions) and we had a couple who wrestled really well,” said North coach Quinton Burgess. “Some might say we had some upsets, but we thought we had a couple more on the fringe and got one more in there.”

Wichita North won the Girls Division I Wrestling Regional Saturday held at Wichita Southeast
Wichita North won the Girls Division I Wrestling Regional Saturday held at Wichita Southeast(Mike Courson)

The top-four wrestlers from each bracket at Southeast advance to the Div. I substate Friday at Wichita Heights. Those brackets will feature wrestlers from the Southeast and Dodge City regional tournaments. Again, the top four will advance to state.

“It’s kind of the same thing all year,” Burgess said. “Just keep being good teammates, having fun, and trying to get better every week. I think the girls have embraced that and it shows as they’ve progressed throughout the year and gotten better and better. We had a good showing today.”

One of just four wrestlers at 126, North’s Diana Colchado was guaranteed to advance. Still, she pinned her first opponent from Junction City, then overcame a 4-0 deficit in the finals to pin Salina Central freshman Lydia Dong, who was ranked No. 4 in Div. 1.

“I’m pretty good at sprawling,” Colchado said. “Whenever I got the chance to take her down, I just saw her head hanging and knew I needed to take it. I used all my muscle for it, but I needed to win.”

Colchado missed state as a freshman and entered Saturday’s tournament unranked in her weight, but she will take a 23-4 record into Friday’s substate at Heights.

“I feel my coaches have pretty high expectations and I don’t want to disappoint them,” she said. “I don’t want to disappoint myself. I’m going to try to push myself more often. Today I had to push myself a lot and I don’t want to be in that position again.”

North dominated the lightweights with regional titles in four of the five lightest brackets. Sophomore Larissa Garcia entered the tournament with just two losses and ranked No. 6 at 101 pounds. She pinned both of her opponents for the crown.

Two girls were to be eliminated at 109 pounds. North senior Dialeen French, ranked No. 4, needed just 49 seconds to pin her first opponent. She takes a 25-5 record to substate after pinning Junction City freshman Laila Lesher in the finals.

Ranked No. 3 at 115 pounds, North sophomore Rodah Bengi was the top-seed in a 6-girl bracket. She won her regional title with a 6-0 decision against Junction City, and a 9-5 decision against Campus sophomore Erin Jackson. Bengi takes a 19-2 record into substate.

As the only wrestler at 191 pounds Saturday, North freshman Meya Howell had the easiest route to a title. She will take a 21-3 record into Friday’s substate tournament.

Just one wrestler ended her season at 120 pounds. Salina Central senior Kate Jennings, ranked No. 4 with just one loss on the season, pinned her South opponent, then pinned Heights senior Karina Meneses in the finals.

With three wrestlers in the 132-pound bracket, all would advance. South senior Alexandra LaForge had a bye until the finals where she pinned North freshman Jaycee Tyler to move to 15-2 on the season. South also picked up a title at 143 where junior Delilah Sherbin (14-2) pinned her Derby opponent and won a 15-6 major decision against North in the finals.

At 170 pounds, South freshman Trinity Williams picked up a pin against Southeast to reach the finals. There she pulled an upset against fourth-ranked Makayla Anderson of Salina Central with a win in just 55 seconds.

Reigning state runner-up Xara Bacci, a junior from Andover Central made quick work of her two opponents at 138 pounds. Bacci is ranked No. 2 heading into substate. Also ranked No. 2 for Central, senior Jaquelyn Tschohl had a bye until the finals where she needed just 53 seconds to pin her opponent from South.

One of just two wrestlers in the heavyweight bracket, third-ranked Rebekah Franklin of Salina Central needed just 98 seconds to pin North freshman Angelina Gillegos. Franklin takes a 15-3 record into substate.

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