It took a comeback. It required an overtime win by one of the team’s key wrestlers. In the end though, the Dodge City Red Demons prevailed in the first ever “Battle for the Bell.”
The Dodge City Red Demons wrestling team beat the rival Garden City Buffaloes Thursday night by a score of 33-27. It was the first year the teams awarded a trophy for the winner of their annual dual.
“The Bell” will stay in Dodge City this year until at least next year’s dual meet.
Thursday night’s competition was indeed a battle, requiring strong efforts from both teams.
It started off tough for the Red Demons. The Buffaloes opened the dual winning the 120, 126 and 132 matches by decision to take a 9-0 lead.
Red Demons head coach Lars Lueders said he wasn’t too concerned early despite falling behind by that much.
“I kind of knew that it might start that way,” Lueders said. “They started it out really tough in those weights, and we knew that we were underdogs, and we almost got a couple of ‘em. We were right there in a couple of those matches. So I wasn’t panicked.”
The Red Demons got on the board for the first time with the 138 match after senior Cisco Soto won 9-6 by decision over Elijahblu Ruiz-Hernandez of Garden City.
After that, Garden City won the next two matches, first in the 145 when Trey Medina beat Dodge City’s Carlos Marquez by decision 5-0. That gave Garden City a 12-3 lead.
Garden City expanded their lead to 15 points, the largest of the night, in the very next match after Curtis Near won by fall over Dodge City’s Weston Moon.
Dodge City, however, fought back, and it started in the 160 division. In the first match after Moon’s loss, sophomore Jashon Taylor won by fall over Jacob Sims.
Garden City followed up with another win by fall, but Dodge City again responded, earning a win by fall in the 182 division, a win by forfeit in the 195, and then another win by fall in the 220 division.
All in all, every time Garden City won a match by a fall Thursday night, Dodge City won at least one the next match the exact same way.
“We responded really well,” Lueders said. “We never got down and looked at the scoreboard and were like ‘aw, we’re losing.’ We responded awesome. The way that we approached the matches when we came out was amazing, and that’s just a continuation of Bishop Carroll and we saw improvement on some technique as well, which I’m really impressed with and excited for.”
Dodge City led 27-24 as junior Evan Darville and Garden City sophomore Refujio Chairez took the mat in the 220 division. Darville, most recently the No. 5 wrestler in the state in the 220 division was to take on Chairez, the No. 4 ranked wrestler in the same division.
Both battled, at multiple points it seemed like one or the other would lose by fall. Ultimately, it ended up going to overtime, where Darville won by decision with a score of 11-9.
That gave the Red Demons a 33-24 lead.
“That was huge,” Lueders said. “That was pretty much the dual.”
Darville said he had one mindset as the two wrestled.
“It was ‘Just don’t get pinned no matter what,’” Darville said. “That’s the only thing that went through my mind so I don’t give up any unnecessary points to put us behind in the dual.”
The Red Demons next are in action in Maize, Kansas for a tournament, then will return home to take on Hays in another dual next Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Dodge City High School Field House.