By BRETT MARSHALL
The key to winning many high school wrestling tournaments is how well a team's competitors fare when they come through the back side, or consolation, bracket in a two-day event.
Garden City High School coach Carlos Prieto knew that would be pivotal for his Buffaloes on Saturday at the Derby Invitational after his team was clinging to a slender one-half point lead over Arkansas City.
That was the state's No. 1-ranked 6A team (Garden City) battling the state's No. 1-ranked 5A team (Ark City) with those two schools ranked No. 1 (Ark City) and No. 2 (Garden) overall heading into the tourney.
But the Buffaloes could manage only one consolation win in Saturday's morning round and that proved to be too much to overcome as Ark City finished ahead of the Buffs, 185.5 to 170.
Despite that, the Buffs came home with four individual titles and one runner-up finish.
Headlining the Garden City performance was 106-pound freshman Michael Prieto, who earned his tournament title with a 7-2 decision over Logan Terril of Ark City, one of the top wrestlers in Class 5A. Prieto, who went 4-0 to improve his season record to 22-1, was voted the Outstanding Wrestler award.
"I thought our kids who got to the finals all wrestled particularly well," coach Prieto said. "Coming out of the holiday break, you just want to see the kids put forth the effort and do the things that we've been working on."
In addition to the young Prieto's win, other titles were captured by sophomore Tevin Briscoe at 132 pounds, and seniors AJ Hurtado at 138 pounds and Anthony Gardner at 170 pounds. Sam Reyes lost his championship bout at 195 pounds.
Briscoe, who improved to 21-2, took his championship bout from Jake Wilson of Rose Hill with a convincing 14-4 major decision. Hurtado's triumph was a narrow 2-1 decision over Great Bend's Kade Sander. Gardner got his with a dominating 16-4 major decision over Christopher Dugan of Wichita Bishop Carroll. Hurtado's season record is now 19-4 while Gardner upped his mark to 13-4.
Of his four winners, Prieto said each had performed well in one of several tough tournaments in which they will compete over the next month.
"Michael found a different way to beat Terril," coach Prieto said of his son's second win over the Ark City wrestler. "He took him down three times in this match. Tevin was just total domination. He stepped up his effort a notch, and I told him that's the best I've seen him wrestle in some time.
"AJ had a tough kid in his match, and I thought he was really physical with him. He got a reversal in the third period for his two points and that was big. It's the kind of effort we have come to expect from AJ. Anthony's starting to wrestle like he did at the end of last season. We're still working on his transitions of move to move, getting him to just wrestle and not outthink himself."
Reyes lost a 6-3 decision to Ben Smithy of Chaparral, a transfer from a Colorado school. Three Buffs finished fifth in their respective weights — Trevor Kennedy at 145 pounds, Chris Adler at 152 pounds and Juan Carlos Rodriguez at 182 pounds.
Next up for the Buffs is the Newton Tournament of Champions on Friday and Saturday.
Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.
Garden City High School's boys and girls bowling teams competed on Saturday in Wichita at the 26-team Bishop Carroll Invitational, as the Buffs' boys placed 10th while the Lady Buffs were 13th.
"It was a great experience for the kids, especially our young girls and the young boys we have," GCHS coach Kip Nichols said. "I think they were just a little tight in their first games, but I felt like they met my expectations."
The format in the tournament, held at West Acres Bowl, saw the teams bowl five matches of two games each against different opponents. Each game that was won allowed a team to earn 30 bonus pins. In their 10 qualifying games, the boys won six and lost four. They split matches with Wichita Southeast, the eventual winner, and Wichita Heights; they swept Goddard and Manhattan while losing both to Wichita Collegiate. In the rankings match, they split with Augusta and finished the tournament with 2,380 total pins. Southeast had 2,911 to easily beat runner-up Wichita Northwest's 2,704 pins. Maize South finished just ahead of the Buffs with 2,388 pins.
Nichols, who compiles frame-by-frame totals for his bowlers, said that freshman Tristan Funk was the top performer for the boys, averaging 203, while Juan Ramirez Jr. was next at 186.
"The boys were a little disappointed, but I think they'll come along," Nichols said.
On the girls side, the Lady Buffs finished with 2,037 pins for their 13th place finish. They were well back of 12th place Manhattan's 2,161 pins and ahead of Andover Central's 2,006. Bishop Carroll was the team champion with 2,513 total pins.
The girls swept Goddard, split matches with Wichita Southeast, Wichita Collegiate and Manhattan while getting swept by Wichita Heights. In their rankings match, they split with Andover Central.
Vicky Newell and Alexa Hemmert led the way with averages of 187 and 181 while Tansy Park upped her average to 148 during the tournament.
The bowlers are quickly back in action as they travel to Liberal Tuesday for a 3 p.m. Western Athletic Conference match.
Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.
Garden City High School cross country coach Krista Linenberger was named on Saturday the Class 6A girls coach of the year by the Kansas Cross Country/Track and Field Coaches Association at its annual conference in Junction City.
"It was a real surprise," Linenberger said when she was notified by email prior to the holiday break. "I certainly didn't expect that. You don't see those given out to western Kansas schools very often."
Linenberger guided the GCHS girls to a second-place team finish at the Class 6A state meet in late October and had the individual runner-up in junior Alex Miller.
It was the highest team finish in school history for the Lady Buffs.
"We've been successful because of the effort of the kids," Linenberger said. "It (award) is good for the program and that's the way it should be. I'm very honored but I share it with my coaching staff and the kids. They're the reason I got this."
Linenberger also was recognized by The Telegram as its 2012 fall sports coach of the year.