Dodge City girls pull off upset at North regional
WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Call it fitting that the final match of Saturday’s Class 5-6A regional wrestling tournament at Wichita North featured grapplers from North and Dodge City. Dodge City junior Jolette Almaraz defeated North senior Edna Flores for the 170-pound title.
Ranked No. 2 as a team, the Red Demons secured the team championship with 179.5 points, qualifying 10 of its 11 wrestlers in action to next week’s state tournament. North, ranked No. 1 all season, scored 142.5 points and qualified eight to state. Garden City finished third with 107 points, and Great Bend struggled to 75 points for fourth.
“Our girls have high goals and expectations,” said Dodge City coach Tate Lowe. “We don’t care about rankings. We know we’re pretty good and we know they’re pretty good. Wrestling in the (Western Athletic Conference) we get good competition so we’re not shying away from them.”
The regional featured several top-ranked wrestlers. Chief among them were Goddard junior Ashlynn Goodwin at 143 pounds, and Great Bend senior Breanna Ridgeway at 132 pounds. Both won state championships a year ago.
Goodwin advanced to Saturday’s championship match and was ahead of Garden City’s third-ranked senior Alondra Guzman into the final seconds. Guzman worked a late reverse to steal a 2-1 decision for the title.
Ridgeway went unbeaten for the Lady Panthers last year to win at 126 pounds. She was headed for another perfect season before losing to Mission Valley sophomore Hope Blake (ranked No. 1 in 1-4A) three weeks ago in Rock Creek.
“It was pretty nerve wracking,” Ridgeway said. “It kind of made my head go wild. I was scared I was going to lose again and not do my best. All I had to do was overcome it and work harder.”
Ridgeway wrestled in just three matches Saturday, winning all three by fall with two pins coming in the first period. She dominated Dodge City’s fourth-ranked freshman Hailey Ramos in the finals before getting the pin.
“I got a good snap on her and I was working my chicken wings,” Ridgeway said. “I can usually get that on her. She was being tough but eventually I got it to go over.”
Wichita North junior Rodah Benji finished fourth at state last winter and entered Saturday’s 115-pound bracket with a perfect record. She pinned her first opponent from Hays in just 56 seconds, then advanced to the finals with a tech fall against Wichita West. Benji controlled sixth-ranked Sara Chapa in the finals for a 20-7 major decision.
Wichita West sophomore Dru Johnson, ranked No. 2, was guaranteed a spot at state with just four competitors in the heavyweight bracket. She came through with a perfect record on the line, pinning two opponents on the day. She defeated Dodge City junior Sindy Gutierrez in the finals.
Several of the title matches were well-contested. At 101 pounds, Liberal’s fourth-ranked junior Mana Chanthasome missed state last year. She drew third-ranked Bilha Benji of Wichita North in the finals. Chanthasome was able to answer every attack from Benji and turn it into points for a 5-2 win.
“Last time we wrestled I was a little upset,” said Chanthasome. “I rewatched it over and over again and stayed on top of it. I knew what she was going to do and knew what she was going to hip-out with. I know her coach knows me - we’ve been wrestling against each other the last three years.”
At 126 pounds, Great Bend’s Daizy Gomez, ranked No. 5, picked up late reversal points against Dodge City’s fourth-ranked sophomore Ariana De La Rosa. It was not enough as De La Rosa hung on 8-7 for the win. Both wrestlers had pinned their way to the finals.
Hays junior Sarah Zimmerman, a state runner-up last year, entered the 109-pound bracket ranked No. 1 ahead of reigning 101-pound champion Larissa Garcia of Wichita North. That played out on the mat as Zimmerman worked an early takedown into a 64-second pin.
With five of the top-six ranked wrestlers at 120-pounds residing out east, North junior Diana Urista was the lone ranked competitor in her bracket Saturday. She finished 4-0 with three wins by fall, including a pin against Hays
sophomore Addison Otte in the finals.
The 138-pound and 155-pound brackets featured all-WAC finals. Garden City junior Bethanie Cruz, ranked No. 6, finished her day 3-0 with all wins by fall. She defeated Dodge City sophomore Dayanara Garcia in the 138-pound finals.
Dodge City junior Ashley Arroyo avenged that loss at 155 pounds. Ranked No. 6, Arroyo went 3-0 on the day with three pins. She needed just 89 seconds to pin Garden City junior Angel Serrano for the crown.
With just four wrestlers in the 191-pound bracket, all grapplers were guaranteed a spot at state. Bishop Carroll sophomore Karla Martinez knocked off sixth-ranked Haylee Holinde of Great Bend in the championship.
Wichita North came from virtually nowhere to win last year’s state championship. This year, with eight wrestlers still going, North could still be in the mix for another state title.
“We got ahead of the game a little bit with some girls being out,” coach Quinton Burgess said of the success. “They did a really good job of talking their friends into it. I think seeing some of those girls who had been around have some success, a lot of other girls bought into that and have been working really hard. That’s probably the biggest factor of them being respected and having a lot of success this season.”
Already taking down top-ranked North, and with 10 wrestlers in the state brackets, Dodge City also has to be considered a favorite next week.
“We’re not really thinking about that,” Lowe said. “We’re just thinking about competing. That’s what we preach, and if it happens it happens. It does help us with the numbers we have, but I’m just proud of our girls for the way they compete and the way they continue to improve.”
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