Buffs take 4th in team chase; Prieto, Briscoe fall in finals
By BRETT MARSHALL
Garden City's Michael Prieto and Tevin Briscoe came up empty in their bids to claim Rocky Welton Invitational titles on Saturday at The New Garden.
But the Buffs' freshman and sophomore wrestlers arrived at their runner-up finishes in much different ways, despite dropping matches by identical 6-3 decisions.
Prieto, who had lost just once all season, lost his championship bout at 106 pounds to team champion Arkansas City's Logan Terrill, an opponent he had beaten three times earlier in the season.
Briscoe, on the other hand, lost his 6-3 match to undefeated and highly-ranked Canyon-Randall, Texas' Jacob Rubio at 132 pounds.
Still, those two paved the way for the Buffs to finish in fourth place in the team race with 141 points while Ark City defended its team crown with 200 points, easily outdistancing runner-up Piedra Viesta, N.M., the two-time defending 4A New Mexico state champs. Newton barely finished ahead of the Buffs with 142.5 points while Cleveland, N.M. occupied the final top five spot with 137.5 points.
All in all, the Buffs' performance was rock solid, considering that after the 138-pound quarterfinal match on Friday, they were without standout AJ Hurtado, who suffered a slight head injury after colliding with JoAngel Cortez of Ulysses.
"As the matches progressed through the day, I really hadn't paid attention to the team scores," GCHS coach Carlos Prieto said after the tournament's conclusion. "I thought maybe we'd have a chance to pass Newton. I knew they'd have their hands full in their finals, and I really thought we would win at least one, maybe both, of our finals. But it just didn't turn out that way. We knew we wouldn't have AJ and that probably was about 20 or so points, so we definitely could have finished higher."
The younger Prieto, ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, lost for just the second time all season and said that he just didn't wrestle a very good match against Terrill.
"He was more aggressive than he had been and he really came at me more than usual," Michael Prieto said. "He took advantage of it and I should have used a better strategy and should have been more aggressive. I'll take this and learn from it, and know that I've got to finish better."
It was a tough match, as Prieto jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a takedown at the 0:57 mark of the first period and held it to the end of the opening 2-minute round. From the bottom position to start the second round, Prieto earned another point on an escape with 1:01 to go and maintained that advantage until just 0:02 seconds were left when Terrill got a 2-point takedown.
"That just changed the whole complexion of the match," coach Prieto said. "I had a good feeling when he got the first takedown and got up 3-0. But he might have relaxed a little there with about 9 seconds to go. It completely changed the strategy for Terrill going to the third."
Terrill opted to go to the neutral (both wrestlers up) to start the final round and at the 1-minute mark, took Prieto down again and then recorded two more near-fall points for the final 3-point margin.
"It's disappointing, but in the long run I think this will help me get better," the younger Prieto said. "I can't take anything for granted."
Briscoe, too, had his opportunities, but just could not quite gain an advantage against Rubio, who broke a scoreless match early in the second period with a 2-point takedown. Briscoe got a 1-point escape with just seven seconds left in the round, but Rubio quickly got another takedown with only 1 second showing to gain the upper hand at 4-1 heading to the final two-minute round. Briscoe (32-4)got a pair of escapes for his final two points, but those were sandwiched around another takedown by Rubio.
"We both wrestled hard, but he really kept the pressure on me," Briscoe said. "If I'd kept some pressure on his head and gotten him out of position, then maybe it would have been different. But when he took me down, he really did a great job of riding me."
The next highest finisher for the Buffs was Trevor Kennedy at 145 pounds with a fourth-place standing. He lost his consolation final to Chris Thompson of Randall-Canyon, Texas, when he was pinned in the first period with just 25 seconds left.
Anthony Gardner placed fifth when he won by injury default. Zac Finch lost a 7-2 decision to Bryce Hofmeister of Great Bend and ended in sixth place. Heavyweight (285) Montana Fuller also took sixth place, dropping his final match to Matt McGrew of Arkansas City, 2-1 in a tiebreaker.
"I thought we wrestled well on Friday, but today we had some tough match-ups and we didn't come through on many of those," coach Prieto said. "We won't make any excuses. We'll move on, learn from it and get better. I like our chances on down the line."
Next up for the Buffs will be a Western Athletic Conference triangular at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Great Bend and also includes Hays.
Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.