Dodge City girls repeat as 6-5A regional champions

Reigning state champion Dodge City collected its second-straight regional title by defeating...
Reigning state champion Dodge City collected its second-straight regional title by defeating Garden City and the field at home Saturday.((photo by Mike Courson))
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 8:52 PM CST
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DODGE CITY, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - The five Western Athletic Conference schools helped make Saturday’s Class 6-5A wrestling regional in Dodge City a true powerhouse. Top-ranked Dodge City, the reigning state champion, dominated with 233 points. Fourth-ranked Garden City placed second with 205 points, and Hays finished third with 129 points. Liberal and Great Bend placed fifth and sixth, respectively. Derby broke up the sweep with a fourth-place finish.

“The WAC is really good,” said Dodge City coach Tate Lowe. “Five in the top six. Western Kansas, we like wrestling.”

The Lady Demons won the regional title in Wichita last February before going on to win the state title. Saturday’s championship was captured at home at the Civic Center.

“Sometimes it will be nice to have them all together in a hotel, or maybe they feed off having family and friends here,” Lowe said. “It’s a mixed review of hosting or not, but whenever we travel for so many hours every weekend, staying home in your bed is kind of nice sometimes.”

One of the most anticipated matches of the day came at 125 pounds. Dodge City’s top-ranked junior Ariana De La Rosa has pushed her win streak against Great Bend’s third-ranked junior Daizy Gomez well into the double digits, including in the regional and state consolation finals last year.

De La Rosa (28-1) wrestled just 56 seconds in the first three rounds with a bye, injury default, and 40-second pin. Gomez had a bye, a quick pin, and a second-period pin to set up a rematch in the finals. Gomez pulled ahead early, but De La Rosa kept the streak alive with a pin midway through the final period. After some quiet finals matches, the gym woke up for the 125-pound final.

“Some people in previous tournaments come up to me and say it’s so entertaining to watch you and Daizy wrestle,” De La Rosa said. “Here, I got my home crowd.”

Dodge City senior Ashley Arroyo sits atop the rankings at 145 pounds. Saturday she was the lone ranked wrestler in her bracket, pinning her way to the finals where she pinned Garden City’s Angel Serrano in the third period. Arroyo takes a 24-0 record to state.

In all, five Lady Demons won regional crowns. Fourth-ranked senior Jolette Almaraz (28-5) worked her way to the 170-pound finals with two first-period pins and a third-period pin against Great Bend sophomore Leah Nokes, who missed state by a single win. Wichita Northeast freshman Aariyah Jackson had three quick pins to reach the finals before being pinned by Almaraz.

Two unranked Dodge City wrestlers also claimed regional titles. Sophomore Hailey Ramos (31-6) pinned her way to the finals at 135 pounds. Hays junior Lexi Burton (24-6) won a pair of decisions in the other half of the bracket. Ramos pinned Burton midway through the second period for the title.

Just three wrestlers entered the heavyweight bracket with winning records. Dodge City freshman Naomi Orozco was sitting at 2-3 entering the field before pinning all three of her opponents for the championship. She needed just 39 seconds to beat Derby freshman Analicia Lopez in the finals. Lopez had pinned her first two opponents in the first period.

Goddard senior Ashlynn Goodwin placed third at 143 pounds last winter. Saturday, she entered the 140-pound bracket ranked No. 1 with just one loss. She reached the finals with two sub-minute pins and another first-period pin. Second-ranked freshman Yareli Garcia of Dodge City had a bye and defeated her first two opponents in a combined 1:51. Goodwin was able to pin Garcia in a possible preview of the state finals.

Wichita West junior Druzzla Johnson kept her unbeaten record intact at 190 pounds. The reigning 235-pound runner up, ranked No. 2, needed just 12 seconds to pin her first opponent. Derby’s fourth-ranked junior Trinity Williams also reached the finals with a pair of first-period pins but was injured in the championship match against Johnson.

The 105-pound bracket also featured the top-two ranked wrestlers. Derby junior Amara Eshe (26-2) pulled the upset against top-ranked Dodge City sophomore Jessica Rivera (29-4) in the finals with a win by fall.

Liberal senior Mana Chanthasome (23-1) was another third-place state finisher in the field. Ranked No. 3, she showed some good sportsmanship in the finals at 100 pounds. Chanthasome pinned all three opponents on the day, including Wichita West senior Jacqueline Salas (25-6) in the finals. Chanthasome had built a sizable lead in the finals before Salas showed some grit to battle through a leg injury. Chanthasome helped Salas off the mat after the pin.

The 110-pound bracket was also loaded with talent. Hutchinson senior Anna Cullens made a name for herself at Wellington as one of the top hurdlers in the state. Saturday, she entered the tournament ranked No. 1 in the larger classification. She needed less than two minutes to dispatch her first two opponents to reach the finals opposite third-ranked Sarah Zimmerman of Hays. The reigning state runner-up at 109 pounds, Zimmerman handed Cullens her first loss of the season with a pin in the third period.

The 115-pound bracket featured four of the state’s top-six wrestlers. Eisenhower senior Lainie Burkhart, placed fourth at state last year and entered Saturday’s field ranked No. 2. She and Hays sophomore Tionna Lapue (28-3), ranked No. 4, pinned their way to the finals. Napue trailed Burkhart until late in the match where she picked up a 7-4 decision for the title.

Second-ranked freshman Julissa Rodriguez of Garden City (25-2) pinned Campus senior Erin Jackson in the first-period of the 120-pound finals. Senior teammate Belle Hernandez (30-4), ranked No. 6, got the upset against Bishop Carroll’s fourth-ranked sophomore Alexis Means via a 9-6 decision in the championship.

At 155 pounds, Eisenhower’s fifth-ranked senior Mackenzie Popp (22-3) picked up three pins for the title. She pinned sixth-ranked Yoselyn Rubio of Dodge City in the semifinals. Garden City junior Karime Guzman reached the finals with two pins and a semifinal win against Great Bend sophomore Kirra Stevens, who had to bow out with a broken arm in the second period.

The Class 6-5A State Championships are scheduled for Feb. 22-23 at Hartman Arena in Park City. Dodge City’s coach is expecting a close race for the championship.

“Garden City is obviously in the mix,” he said. “I’ve said all year they’re super tough, probably the most physical team we see. Then there’s Washburn Rural and just that continued rivalry. I think Wichita North might be in the mix a little bit. I really expect it to come down to a couple matches between Dodge, Garden, and Washburn Rural.”