By BRETT MARSHALL
Despite missing several of his varsity wrestlers in three weight classes, Garden City Buffaloes coach Carlos Prieto was nonetheless pleased with the performance of the Buffs on Friday at the opening day of the Derby Invitational.
As well he should be.
Five of the Buffs will wrestle in the semifinals today, and the Buffs owned a 13.5 point lead after day one of the 18-team tournament, finishing with 142 points, while Class 5A's No. 1-ranked team, and the state's overall No. 1-ranked team in Arkansas City, was back in second with 128.5 points. The Buffs are the state's No. 1-ranked 6A school and No. 2 overall.
"I thought, overall, coming after the break, we were a little sluggish, but we finished some matches on a positive note," Prieto said. "We're not in the greatest shape at the moment, but I'm promising that we will get there."
Those who advanced to the semifinals included Sam Reyes at 195 pounds, after sweeping his three opponents; Anthony Gardner at 170 pounds, who was 2-0 after a first-round bye thanks to his No. 1 seeding; AJ Hurtado at 138 pounds, also winning three matches; Tevin Briscoe at 132 pounds (3-0) and Michael Prieto at 106 pounds, again finishing 3-0 for the first day.
"We had worked on some specific techniques over the break, and I thought the kids tried them and hit them pretty well," coach Prieto said. "Coming in, I didn't know how we'd battle, knowing that we were missing some wrestlers."
Not competing were 120-pounder Matt Urrutia, who is recovering from a broken finger, and will be out for a couple of weeks; Zac Finch at 160 pounds, who got hurt over the break, but is expected to return next week; Samson Aldaco at 220 pounds, who missed some practices over the break, and was left home by Prieto. Prieto also hopes to have transfer Montana Fuller compete for the 285-pound weight class position this coming week against Aaron Lozano.
"We're far from being at full strength, but the kids are battling hard," Prieto said. "That's what we want, that's what we expect from them. We want them to be tougher."
Michael Prieto recorded two pins and and a major decision in his matches. Briscoe earned one pin and two decisions, while Hurtado had two pins and one decision. Gardner won both of his matches, both coming on technical falls (15-points or more). Chris Adler suffered a head butt in his third match of the day and defaulted that match. He is expected to wrestle today, coach Prieto said. Trevor Kennedy went 2-1 at 145 pounds, losing his final match of the day.
Other wrestlers who all posted 1-1 records and will compete in the consolation bracket today include Efrain Sanchez at 113 pounds; Alec Castillo at 126 pounds; Juan Carlos Rodriguez at 182 pounds; Angel Gonzales at 220 pounds and Lozano at 285 pounds.
Results in Scoreboard, above.