BUFFS ROUNDUP: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020
It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster season for the Garden City Buffaloes’ boys wrestling team, but they will have their final opportunity to salvage some individual accomplishments and a high team finish when they open the Class 6A State Wrestling Championship on Friday, Feb. 28, at Hartman Arena in Park City.
The Buffs qualified nine of their wrestlers from the Super Regional last weekend in Topeka, including a pair of regional champions in seniors Jacob Holt (138) and Jared Arellano (160). Two others finished second in their respective weight divisions – Ryan Heiman (126) and Alex Rodriguez (170).
Two third-place finishers include Erick Dominguez at 145 and Josh Janas at 152 pounds. Steven Sellers placed fourth at 132 pounds while Matt Smith was sixth at 220 and Isaiah Barrett was seventh at 285 pounds.
When the 2019-20 season began back in early December, head coach Carlos Prieto thought he would have two other returning state champions on the roster at this stage – Refugio Chairez (285) and Silas Pineda (120) as well as returning senior Diago Hernandez (132). But Chairez graduated at semester and enrolled at Garden City Community College to pursue football, Hernandez suffered a season-ending injury early in the 2020 portion of the season and Pineda was disqualified in his regional championship match last Saturday and thus is ineligible to compete at the state tournament in the 120-pound weight class. He had won the 113-pound class a year ago.
“At this stage, everything just boils down to the kids we have to be able and go and wrestle their best,” said Prieto of his nine-man state squad. “Jacob was the old Jacob at regionals, wrestled very aggressively and very smart. When he’s on, he’s really hard to beat and I expect him to be on the top of the podium on Saturday.”
Holt (27-2) has won state championships as a freshman and junior while finishing second in his sophomore season. A third state title on Saturday would put him in rarified company as Tevin Briscoe (3) and Michael Prieto (4) are the only other GCHS wrestlers to win more than two individual golds.
Prieto said he thought Janas had come through one of the toughest weight classes at the Topeka regional at 152 pounds, with six of the top eight-ranked wrestlers competing there. He will take a 35-10 record into the state tourney.
Arellano (17-9) saved his best performance of his high school career for the regional title, and Prieto said if he continues to wrestle that aggressively, he will make waves into the deep part of the bracket at 160 pounds.
“He turned in one of the most dominating performances at regionals and I think he’ll have a shot at making the finals,” Prieto said.
Heiman, just a freshman, has posted a 35-14 record this season and Prieto said his rookie has a good chance to make the top four in his first year at state.
Other Buffs who have qualified include junior Steven Sellers (27-13) at 132, Dominguez, a sophomore (28-15) at 145; senior Alex Rodriguez (21-7) at 170 pounds; junior Matt Smith (22-11) at 220 pounds and junior Isaiah Barrett (8-19) at 285 pounds.
“Alex has a very good chance of reaching the finals, Sellers should have a shot at getting on the podium, I like the match-up that Smith has for state after wrestling well in regionals and I think this will be a great experience for him for next season.”
Prieto said there was an element of sadness for the disqualification of Pineda at the regionals on Saturday.
“I feel badly for him since he was a returning state champion and his senior year,” Prieto said of Pineda. “He doesn’t get a chance to defend. He’s a great kid and I just don’t want people to judge him. It was a mistake and all of us will move on from this.”
Opening round matches will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, with championship quarterfinals and semifinals to be contested later in the day. Saturday will be comprised of mostly consolation and medal-round matches with the championship bouts to be contested late in the afternoon into the early evening hours.
Buffalo Lineup for Class 6A State
126: Ryan Heiman, Fr., 35-14 vs. Travis Miller, Blue Valley, 22-14
132: Steven Sellers, Jr., 27-13 vs. Zach Gale, Gardner-Edgerton, 24-21
138: Jacob Holt, Sr., 27-2 vs. Daniel Boose, Shawnee Mission West, 21-11
145: Erick Dominguez, So., 28-15 vs. Nick Carlson, Olathe East, 30-15
152: Josh Janas, Jr., 35-10 vs. Bryce Goswick, Blue Valley, 30-13
160: Jared Arellano, Sr., 17-9 vs. Travonte Rushing, JC Harmon, 6-9
170: Alex Rodriguez, Sr., 21-7 vs. Angel Gallardo, JC Harmon, 31-13
220: Matt Smith, Jr., 22-11 vs. Noah Short, Gardner-Edgerton, 26-13
285: Isaiah Barrett, Jr., 8-19 vs. Danny Robinson, Blue Valley Northwest, 42-6