GCHS takes lead in WAC Champions Cup race

GCHS Athletics
Garden City High School defensive lineman Saul Perez, left, and Xavier Soriano apply pressure to Liberal quarterback Brooks Kappelmann and force an incomplete pass Oct. 1 in the rain at Buffalo Stadium. The Buffaloes finished the season in a three-way tie for first place in the Western Athletic Conference.

One way to evaluate the success of the Garden City High School athletic programs is to analyze how they fare in their varsity competitions against the teams that comprise the Western Athletic Conference.

And no better way than to look at the annual Champions Cup, a competition now more than a decade in existence, that awards points to each of the four teams in each varsity sport, with the fifth-place team not receiving any points. The points are assigned on a 12-8-6-4 basis from first to fourth.

With the fall sports seasons now wrapped up and the winter sports in their first week of full practices for the December start, the Buffaloes took a slender lead over rival Dodge City, 54.66 to 52.66, in the seven sports just completed. Hays is not far behind in third at 47.66 while Great Bend and Liberal rounded out the scoring with 28 and 27 points, respectively.

Garden City High School's Sage Riggs hits a backhand shot down the line during a doubles match in September at the GCHS girls tennis invite. Riggs, the 2021 WAC Player of the Year, helped lead the Buffaloes to a WAC championship.

Garden City had two outright conference championships in girls tennis and boys cross country, the football team shared the league title with Hays and Dodge City, the boys’ soccer team took second to highly-ranked Dodge City while the girls golf team occupied third place.

“Our performance in the fall sports was exemplary in nearly every program,” GCHS Athletics/Activities Director Drew Thon said. “We are very proud of the dedication that our student-athletes have to each sport, and they distinguish themselves in how they represent the school and the community.”

Each sport selects its own all-WAC first and second teams at the conclusion of the fall campaign in various ways. The football title is determined by a round-robin schedule, the boys’ soccer by a double round-robin, girls golf by a five-tournament team/individual standing, while girls’ tennis, volleyball and boys and girls’ cross country are decided on a one-day competition.

“We are indeed fortunate to have such an outstanding array of coaches who do a great job of working with our student-athletes to produce high-level competitors, but also teaching them life skills beyond the high school years,” Thon said.

Of the seven sports, the Buffs had 34 athletes chosen to either a first or second-team list.

Garden City High School's Bryant Tamayo, left, steals a pass off his head, intended for Liberal's Giezi Gonzalez, and starts a Buffalo offensive attack in a September game at Buffalo Stadium. Tamayo helped lead GCHS to a 12-5-0 overall record for the season.

Girls’ tennis swept all six first-team selections when the Buffaloes won the No. 1 and 2 singles and doubles at the WAC championship. In addition, senior Sage Riggs was named the Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and finished her four-year career with four WAC titles and the winner of 121 career matches between singles and doubles. Other first-teamers in tennis were Brooke Ptacek and Alivia Palmer in singles and Sydney Nanninga, Chloe Powell and Payton Tull in doubles. Logan Bevis was chosen Coach of the Year.

The Buffaloes boys’ cross country team garnered its WAC title behind the efforts of junior Devin Chappel, who took second individually to earn a first-team honor along with Kailyn Munoz. Krista Linenberger was voted Boys WAC Coach of the Year for the cross country season. Junior golfer Ryann Warren was the WAC individual runner-up, just missing out the top spot by 1.5 points.

Football earned a tri-championship with Hays and Dodge City as each of those three teams handed the others one loss, all on the road. The Buffs won at Hays, Hays took down Dodge City in an away game and Dodge won at Buffalo Stadium. Five football players took first-team honors in Terrell Elliott (Sr., defensive line), Caleb Wiese (Jr., defensive back), with Zack Keosengphet (Jr., running back), Kaden Whitehurst (Sr., lineman) and Kelvin Rico (Sr., lineman) being named to the offensive squad.

Freshman Piper Harris enjoyed a banner first year of high school volleyball by earning first-team honors after the league championship was determined. For the boys’ soccer team, senior Bryant Tamayo garnered a first-team vote by the league’s coaches as they enjoyed one of their best seasons in recent history. Under second-year coach Jose Vital-Caro, the Buffs went 6-2 in the WAC and 12-5-0 overall.

Garden City High School's Ryann Warren hits a fairway shot out of the light rough in September on Buffalo Dunes golf course's No. 10 during the GCHS girls golf invitational.  Warren finished the season at the WAC runner up.

There were 18 student-athletes named to the second teams of their respective sports. Seven of those were in football, four in boys’ soccer, two in volleyball, two in boys’ cross country, one in girls’ cross country and two in girls’ golf.

Second team soccer players were Roger Benitez Erick Tamayo and David Hernandez; volleyball were Makenzie Lucas and Mya Delacruz; girls’ cross country was Cate Wiese; girls’ golf were Allie Sandoval and Emma Ortiz; football were Jerry Arteaga, Emmanuel Charite, Michael Camarena, Xavier Sorano, Joel Bellows, Ryan Heiman and Alonzo Marquez.

Winter sports are comprised of boys and girls basketball, girls and boys wrestling, girls and boys bowling, and boys’ swimming. Spring sports include boys golf, boys tennis, girls swimming, girls soccer, softball, baseball and girls and boys track and field.