A year ago, the Dodge City Red Demons sent eight wrestlers to the 6A state tournament. Six of them came back with medals. The team itself took sixth place.
This year even more Red Demons are going.
The Red Demons finished eighth of 16 teams in the Wichita-South Regional Tournament Friday and Saturday. A total of 10 Red Demons placed in the top eight, qualifying for the State Tournament scheduled to be held in Park City, a suburb of Wichita, Feb. 24-25.
Head coach Lars Lueders said it was the athlete’s mindsets that were the things he liked the most.
“Just their approach to the matches was awesome,” Lueders said. “They were very aggressive from the get-go, they knew what they wanted to get to during the matches and they never got frustrated. We had a lot of kids that were down in points and they battled back and won a lot of those matches that they may have been down in.”
Those going to state include:
- Couy Weil, who placed third in the 113 division
- Daniel Rojas, who placed fourth in the 120 division
- Edwin Estrada, who placed fifth in the 126 division
- Garrett Edwards, who placed seventh in the 132 division
- Cisco Soto, who placed eighth in the 138 division
- Weston Moon, who placed sixth in the 152 division
- Jashon Taylor, who placed fourth in the 160 division
- Ansony Quezada, who placed second the 195 division
- Cody Terrell, who placed sixth in the 220 division
- Evan Darville, who placed fifth in the 285 division
Last year’s eight state competitors included four seniors.
This year, the group going is full of youth, with one less senior but two extra wrestlers. Five of the 10 wrestlers are underclassmen, and two of those are freshmen Edwin Estrada and Daniel Rojas.
“I think that’s the thing that is most exciting, is how young we are and the ability to qualify (so many wrestlers),” Lueders said. “Obviously we’re still thinking about this year but when you look at next year, no matter how the state tournament goes we’re gonna have a lot of guys with state tournament experience, which is important.”
That could help when those athletes get to the state tourney in the future, he said.
“When they get to the state the second time around, they’ll be less nervous, they’ll know what to expect and they should even perform better next year than they did this year,” Lueders said.
Darville, Weil and Quezada are three who have been to state before and could make some noise in the standings this weekend.
“Obviously those two and Ansony Quezada, those three have been there before. They’re primed and ready to make a state-championship run,” Lueders said. “The rest of our guys haven’t been to the state tournament before, so I’m really interested in seeing how they’ll handle the pressure and handle the big venue.”
Mostly though, the team’s strategy going in is to take it one match at a time.
“I know the expectation for all our kids is to win that first match, and so once we win that first match we’ll go from there,” Lueders said. “(I’m) just excited to see how our kids do and see if they can stay consistent on a big stage.”
Friday and Saturday’s events take place at Park City-Hartman Arena at 8151 N. Hartman Arena Dr., Park City, KS 67147.
Tickets are $10 dollars for K-12 students and $12 for adults. There is no parking fee and gates open at 8 a.m., according to the Kansas State High School Activities Association website.