The Garden City High School wrestling team saw their chief Class 6A opponent on Saturday at Norton’s J.R. Durham Invitational, and the Buffaloes now know what they will be facing come late February in Wichita at the state championship.
The Buffs scored 158 points for a runner-up finish to Manhattan as the Indians rolled up 170.5 points to take the team title from a field of 19 schools.
"I thought we wrestled better than we did on Thursday, considering how we did over at Dodge (33-27 dual loss to the Demons)," said GCHS coach Carlos Prieto.
For the Buffs, two wrestlers brought home gold as Jacob Holt went 3-0 and won the 126-pound division when he earned a 10-7 decision over Justus McDaniel of Scott City. The second gold came from Elijahblue Ruiz-Hernandez at 138 pounds, who posted a 4-0 mark in the tourney and claimed the title match with a pin of Blake Hoffmaster of Cozad, Neb., at 0:47 of the first period.
"Particularly happy for Elijahblue," Prieto said. "It's his first big tournament win. As far as technique, he's started to pick up on things. He's fought really hard lately and shows what hard work will do. He was able to overcome some adversity, winning and getting to the finals and then pinning the kid — his pin was really big."
Getting Holt back in the lineup after the sophomore missed Thursday was also big.
"He's our sparkplug, our little engine that gets us moving," Prieto said of Holt, who won the 6A title a year ago at 113 pounds.
Two other Buffs placed second in their respective weight classes — Trey Medina at 145 pounds and Refugio Chairez at 285 pounds. Medina lost by fall to Hoxie’s Dayton Porsch at 3:32 of the second period. Chairez, meanwhile, lost a heartbreaker 3-2 decision to Smith Center’s Avery Hawkins.
"As a freshman, for him to make it to the finals, is a great step ahead," Prieto said of Medina. "He lost to the Porsch kid, who's one of the best wrestlers in the state in all classes."
Steven Sellers (106) and Kaj Perez (132) garnered thifrd-place finishes, each going 3-1 in the bracketed format. Sellers took third when he pinned Alex Paz of Atwood at 1:48 of the first while Perez’ third-place win came with a dominating 13-0 major decision over Tiernam Polling of St. Francis.
One other Buff medaled, and that was Silas Pineda at 120 pounds. In his third-place match, Pineda lost a 2-1 decision to Blayne Harris of Beloit.
"They (Manhattan) beat us, but we had a couple of kids hurt," Prieto said of the potential 6A state showdown. "We're pretty close to them, and when we get some of our kids back, and keep getting better, I like where we'll be."
Next action for the Buffs will be Thursday when they host Great Bend in a Western Athletic Conference dual. Varsity action begins at 7 p.m. at The Garden with junior varsity matches beinning at 6 o’clock.
Area Notes: Scott City, Cimarron and Holcomb all had varying successes on Saturday in Norton.
The Beavers placed fourth as a team with 124 points while Cimarron was eighth in the 19-team field. Holcomb placed 13th.
Individually, Scott City came away with a pair of firsts and a pair of runner-up finishes. Kaden Wren won the 132-pound division with a pin over Ryan Johnson of Norton at 4:30 while Wyatt Hayes took a 10-2 major decision over Tevin Petrie of Norton to claim the 170-pound weight class.
Cimarron’s defending Class 3-2-1A state champion Josh Seabolt (180 pounds last season) has moved up to the 195-pound weight and had produced a 3-0 record, winning the championship match by a 5-3 decisionn over Tyler Palic of Marion. Braiden Lynn also won a gold medal for the Bluejays, pinning Caleb Burleigh of Blue Valley at the final buzzer of the third period.
Holcomb’s two medal winners were a first place by Chance Rodriguez, who won all three of his matches at 182 pounds, pinning Alec Langan of McCook, Neb., at 1:28 of the first period while Tanner Johnson claimed third place with a 5-1 decision over Maverick Green of Atwood.