Special wins — From GCHS to Wichita, local athletes make mark

3/3/2014

The past weekend was special for fans of local athletes.

The past weekend was special for fans of local athletes.

Scott City's own Ron Baker continued to be part of the Wichita State basketball team's historic march, as the Shockers finished the regular season 31-0.

Baker — who wears No. 31 — played his usual key role as his team maintained perfection.

In a state where the two big university programs — Kansas and Kansas State — usually garner most of the attention, they're now looking up at a Wichita State team that's ranked No. 2 in the nation.

With an easy victory Saturday over Missouri State, Wichita State became the first team since Saint Joseph in 2004 to enter its conference tournament unbeaten. The Shockers haven't lost since falling to eventual national champion Louisville in last year's Final Four.

On the same day as Wichita State's impressive win, the Garden City High School wrestling team made its own mark in rolling to a second consecutive state championship. The Buffs had a pair of individual champions, as sophomore Michael Prieto and junior Tevin Briscoe each won their second consecutive state title.

The 6A state championship was the ninth state wrestling title in school history, and marked just the second since legendary coach Rocky Welton's final year in 1999.

Welton led Garden City to several state championships. A reminder of his impact on local wrestling comes annually with the Rocky Welton Invitational, a wrestling tournament that brings teams from all over Kansas and surrounding states to Garden City.

Looking back at the Buffs' run to a state title, it's safe to say this year's Rocky Welton Invitational made a difference.

The Buffs gained momentum after that event, which GCHS won for the first time in 21 years. The Garden City wrestling team would go on to state, and rally from an early deficit to win the title.

The Buffs carried a motto of "Refuse 2 Lose" into the state tourney.

It was a fitting theme for GCHS, and looks to be the same for Wichita State. All Kansans, regardless of their rooting interest, should enjoy watching the Shockers' dream season continue to unfold.

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