Red Demons place sixth in the eight-team regional meet
HUTCHINSON — The Dodge City High School wrestling team placed sixth out out eight teams Saturday in the Class 6A regional meet at Salthawk Arena and four Red Demons qualified for this weekend's state meet at Wichita's Hartman Arena.
But if you talk to Red Demons' head coach Lars Lueders, you can tell the disappointment in his voice that there weren't more members of the DCHS squad that could and should have qualified for one more weekend of action.
"Basically, like I said, it came down to some close matches and it came down to if we were on today or not," Lueders said. "Four of our kids were on and the rest didn't have the best tournaments of their lives. It's the postseason and now we have to concentrate on the kids who made it to state and we expect a lot of good things from those kids."
Three DCHS wrestlers finished second and a fourth finished fourth in their weight divisions to gain berths and represent the Demons at the final meet of the season.
Dane Edwards won every match up to the final in the 138-pound class up to the final. Edwards won by technical fall over Alex Soto (Wichita South) in the first round and by major decision over Dylan Brazell (Wichita Northwest) in the semifinals. Edwards lost by injury default to Garden City's A.J. Hurtado in the final.
Edwards (30-3) will go into next week's meet as a second-seed and will face Seth Ortiz (11-18) of Shawnee Mission East in the first round.
Lueders said it was better to let Edwards go ahead and suffer the loss in the final instead of getting hurt even more after getting banged up in the first two rounds of the regional.
"We wanted to make sure to hold him out and risk getting any more injury," Lueders said. "We want him to be ready and healthy for the state tournament."
Clay Weil finished second in 120 pounds for the Red Demons. Weil (35-8) pinned Hagen Kent (Hutchinson) at 1:34 in the first round, and a 2-0 decision over Matt Urrutia (Garden City) in the semifinals. Weil lost to Wichita Northwest's Mike Lindlar by pin in 44 seconds in the final.
Weil (35-8) will go into next week's meet as a second-seed and faces Matt Penner (37-12) of Blue Valley West in the first round.
Jaden McRoberts finished second in the 113-pound division for Dodge City. McRoberts won his first match by pin in 41 seconds to Monty Stoner (Maize) and beat Garden City's Efrain Sanchez by a 6-3 decision in the semifinals. McRoberts lost by a 9-1 major decision to Cody McDonald (Derby) in the final.
McRoberts (30-11) will go into next week's meet as a second-seed and faces T.J. Burger (21-18) of Gardner-Edgerton in the first round.
"I think, to achieve their goals of winning the state tournament, they're going to have to come out a little bit better than they did in the first period of the finals," Lueders said. "They did make it to state and that was good, and at this point, everyone is 0-0 with a clean slate again."
Santiago Garcia finished fourth in the 152-pound division. Garcia beat Trenton Allen (Campus) by a 10-4 decision in the first round, before losing by pin to Ben Becker (Derby) at 1:05. Garcia qualified for the state with a 7-1 decision over Nick Murilllo (Hutchinson) in the consolation semifinals and lost in his final match by pin at 1:26 to Saul Ortiz (Wichita Northwest).
Garcia (16-19) will go into next week's meet as a fourth-seed and will battle Jeryl Denton (37-4) of Junction City in the first round.
"I'm happy for Santiago because he's put out a lot of work since seventh grade," Lueders said. "He's just improved every year and has done things during the offseason to get him as a state qualifier. Santiago is one of those kids who worked hard and surprised some people by qualifying for state."
The Red Demons scored seven more team points with individual victories by James Meehan (160, 1-2 at meet, 11-9 on season), Corey Keller (170, 1-2, 17-9) and Connor Kinkelaar (195, 1-2, 8-21). The other five Dodge City wrestlers at the meet lost both of their first matches.
Garden City won the team regional title with 217.5 points, followed by Derby (183) and Wichita Northwest (139).