Red Demon wrestlers head to regionals

It’s hard to make it to the state wrestling tournament. It’s even harder if you are on a 6A team competing in a regional tournament in, what is considered, the western part of the state of Kansas.

This year, the Kansas State High School Activities Association made a change to the regional formats. Instead of the former eight-team regional format with the top four wrestlers from each weight class qualifying for the state tournament, the new formats will feature 16 teams with the top eight wrestlers qualifying for the state tournament.

In last year’s regional tournament that Dodge City hosted, four of the eight teams placed in the top six at state which included the state champions, Garden City.

"It gives more kids an opportunity to make it to the state tournament," Dodge City head coach Lars Lueders said about the new format. "In order to make the state tournament last year and in years past, you basically had to be a state place winner or a state place winner type of kid."

The Red Demons finished fifth in their regional tournament and qualified six wrestlers for the state tournament. Of those six wresters, five placed at the state tournament and Dodge City finished fifth as a team in Wichita.

On Friday afternoon, the Red Demons will begin the challenge of the new regional tournament format in Hutchinson. While the 16-team regional should allow more wrestlers from western Kansas and the Wichita area to qualify for the state tournament, on paper, the regional tournament in Hutchinson will be far and away more competitive than the regional tournament taking place at Blue Valley High School.

According to the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association rankings, nine of the teams ranked in the top 10 in class 6A will compete in Hutchinson.

"It’s still a tough regional," Lueders said. "But overall, it’s better for us and better for this side of the state because we are going to get more kids into the state tournament and I think it will be a more true state tournament because you will actually have more kids there from your tougher teams."

Amongst Dodge City’s regional lineup include just one Red Demon who qualified for the state tournament last season. Senior Tylor Garcia, who was the state runner up in the 138-pound weight class a year ago, headlines the Red Demons’ lineup. Along with Garcia is fellow senior Dylan Servis.

Serves missed last year’s season with an injury but placed third as a sophomore in 2015. The Red Demons prepare all season to get to this point but Servis says that the week leading up to regionals is not treated any differently than other weeks of practice.

"We treat this as just another tournament," Servis said. "We’ve been through this before, we’ve done this before. We got to national tournaments to treat this like just another tournament."

The Red Demons are currently the sixth ranked team in class 6A with five individuals ranked. Action is set to begin at 1 p.m at Hutchinson High School.

DODGE CITY LINEUP

106 - Chad Nichols (7-7)

113 - Couy Weil (27-6)

120 - Kenedy Escobedo (22-11)

126 - Devon Griego (17-13)

132 - Josue Castillo (8-10)

138 - Juan Chavez (5-1)

145- Tylor Garcia (33-4)

152 - Preston Moon (17-21)

160 - Weston Moon (15-15)

170 - Tyler Pipenger (12-11)

182 - Dylan Servis (32-7)

195 - Ansony Quezada (28-8)

220 - Marcos Fisher (23-7)

285 - Evan Darville (8-6)