Prieto's 1st, Hurtado's 2nd pace Buffs to 4th at Newton TOC
By BRETT MARSHALL
Freshman Michael Prieto captured another wrestling title at 106 pounds while AJ Hurtado lost his bid for an individual gold medal, and Tevin Briscoe came back through the consolation bracket with four wins on Saturday to highlight the Garden City Buffaloes' performance at the 50th Newton Tournament of Champions.
The Buffs, who struggled somewhat on Saturday, finished in fourth place with 152 points while powerhouse Grand Island, Neb., walked off with the team title with 243 points. Arkansas City was second with 178 and Newton overtook the Buffs for third place with 152.5 points. Colby rounded out the top five teams with 128.5 points.
Prieto, who has now compiled a 27-1 won-loss record in his inaugural high school season, had to go to overtime to record a 2-0 victory over Logan Terrill of Arkansas City. It was the third straight tournament in which the two wrestlers had faced each other, and the second straight where they met in the final.
Hurtado lost his bid for an individual title when he lost a heartbreaking 3-2 decision to Brogan Humphrey of Fredonia. Humphrey is the two-time 3-2-1A state champion and was unbeaten coming into the match. His record is now 22-5.
Briscoe, a sophomore, battled his way back through the consolation bracket on Saturday after losing a tough 3-1 decision on Friday to Sawyer Like of Blue Valley Southwest. Briscoe defeated Bishop Carroll's Luke Webber, 10-2 in a major decision; a 2-0 decision over Kendall Biddle of Arkansas City; a 7-0 decision over Kevin Kissane of Maize South and then blanked John Risewick of Norton, 3-0, in the third-place bout. Briscoe's season mark now stands at 27-3.
Other Buffs who finished in the medal chase included Zac Finch at 160 pounds and Sammy Reyes at 195 pounds, both of whom placed fourth, and Montana Fuller, who finished sixth at 285 pounds.
"I think mixed emotions would be the best way to describe the tournament," GCHS head coach Carlos Prieto said. "I'm pleased with some of the performances, but I think our mental toughness took a step back. We had a lot of close matches, and I thought some of the kids didn't do a good job of keeping their emotions under control. They can't lose their cool. They've got to maintain their focus, or it costs you points."
Prieto said that if any number of matches go one point in another direction, the Buffs would have finished third.
"That's what we were looking for," Prieto said. "We wanted to finish above Newton. But we just didn't get some of those that we were looking for."
Prieto said he was especially impressed with Briscoe's performance on Saturday, when he went 4-0 to claim third place.
"I'm sure he would have liked to have been wrestling for first, but he really toughed it out for us," Prieto said of Briscoe. "He really turned it on and had a great match with Risewick (one of the top 3-2-1A wrestlers). I told the kids Friday night that they could either quit or come back. Tevin really did a great job and gave great effort. Couldn't be more proud of him."
Prieto also said that Finch wrestled especially well, considering he was coming off an injury suffered during the holiday break that forced him to miss the Derby Invitational the week prior.
On Saturday, Finch earned a 4-0 decision over Heydon Mock of Newton, before falling in a 6-2 decision to Austin Chauncey of Manhattan. Finch improved his season record to 18-6.
"He was in such a tough bracket," Prieto said of Finch, who was awarded the Buffs' Wrestler of the Week by the coaching staff. "He did a great job. I think he will look back on this weekend as the one that turned his season around. It should be a big boost to his confidence. He's got all the tools."
Reyes had a chance to finish third after defeating Jake Gramke of Mill Valley in the consolation semis, but an injury forced him to default to Seth Pesek of Gardner-Edgerton in the third-place bout.
"Sammy's getting better every week," Prieto said. "He took the top-seeded kid down right away in his match, and we're seeing the kind of fire in him that we like. This weekend should be a good confidence boost for him. He's wrestling better all the time."
In Fuller, the Buffs got their Lakin transfer after the start to the second semester, and he responded with a 3-3 weekend effort and sixth place at 285 pounds.
"I'm real pleased with his performance, considering that he's still not in shape," Prieto said of Fuller. "He beat the Colby kid, and two other kids he'll see in regionals. Once we get him into shape, I think he'll be a pleasant surprise."
The Buffs are back in action at 7 p.m. Thursday, when they host Liberal in a Western Athletic Conference dual at The New Garden. Before the Rocky Welton on Jan. 25 and 26, they host Dodge City on Jan. 22.
Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.