Garden City came in to the 6A state wrestling tournament as the top dog and after day one they stayed that way. The Buffs finished the championship quarterfinals and consolation first round with 80.5 points. They also advanced seven wrestlers to the semifinals. Junction City finished second with 61.5 followed by Manhattan with 59.
The Wichita and Western Kansas schools owned the light weights. The big boys, starting at 152 were all Kansas City schools. Garden City’s 106 pound freshman Michael Prieto started the quarterfinals off with a solid thirteen point victory. No. 1 for the Buffs and No. 1 in the state.
The defending 113-pound state champion, Wichita Heights' Sean Deshazer, pinned both of the opponents he faced in the first round and quarterfinals. Another defending state champion from Wichita Northwest, Michael Lindlar, faced the Falcons' Armond McCray in the quarterfinals. Although McCray took a 3-2 lead, Lindlar exposed a mistake and earned the win 5-3.
Garden City has some talented youth. Another Buff freshman Alec Castillo fought for an important victory in the 126 class. Castillo was tied at five with Topeka senior Marcus Reece to end the second period. He was critical for the Buffs and with a final takedown earned the 10-9 win.
It seemed like every weight class had a Buffalo. The 132-pound bout was a hard fought battle as well. Tevin Briscoe was another one of Garden City's seven. He got the pin with 45 seconds left in the match.
In the 138 pound class, there are two who should end up in the finals against one another simply because of the Garden-Dodge rivalry. They said they want to face each other again. The Demons' Dane Edwards and the Buffs' AJ Hurtado will both advance after tight victories in the quarters.
Edwards battled for the 3-1 win over Overland Park Northwest's Jaquwan Stone.
"It means a lot to me because I definitely want to go out there and win a state title," Edwards said. "This is what I have been working for since after state last year so I am just hoping to get in the finals."
Hurtado's was more lopsided with an 11-2 win over Topeka Wasburn Rural's Stephen Stamps.
“I tried taking him down first but the cards didn’t fall my way," Hurtado said. "I didn’t let it get me down and I just got right back up and went to work. I still didn’t feel like I wrestled my best and hopefully I wrestle my best tomorrow."
The Buffs are eager to take home their first team title since 1999 and each win builds momentum.
"Before the tournament we all knew that we could do this," Hurtado said. "We are all a close team and more like a family but after watching Alec and Tevin win we got closer and everyone's excited for each other and we are building off of it."
The Buffs' 145-pound wrestler Trevor Kennedy advanced as well as their 195-pound wrestler Sammy Reyes.
Topeka’s Will Geary would earn himself a pin in the 285 class but as a team the Buffs, Junction City and Manhattan stay on top. Wichita Northwest and Derby are not far behind with 51.5 points.
Semifinals are slated for 9:00 am on Saturday, with finals set to begin around 2:30 pm.