A final-match pin helped the Great Bend Panthers wrestling team spoil Dodge City’s home opener Tuesday with a 38-34 win over the Red Demons.

Great Bend junior Carsyn Schooler pinned Dodge City sophomore Edwin Estrada in the night’s feature matchup the 132 weight division, securing the victory.

The Panthers entered the night the No. 6 team in Kansas 5A wrestling, while Dodge City entered as the No. 5 team in 6A.

Red Demon head coach Lars Lueders said he thought his team battled, even though they had faced a lot of adversity this week, with guys being out for various reasons.

“Our guys stepped up, they just wrestled hard and that’s all that you could ask from them,” Lueders said. “We gave it a good shot, at the end just came up a little bit short, but I’m proud of their effort.”

Tuesday’s varsity dual started with the 138 matchup between Dodge City junior Garrett Edwards, and Great Bend senior Skylar Burkes.

Edwards nearly pinned Burkes at the end of the second period, but Burkes was able to prevent it and survive into the third and final period. Edwards ended up winning by major decision, giving the Red Demons a 4-0 lead.

After Edwards’ victory, Great Bend went on a tear.

It started with a victory by Panther senior George Weber. He entered the match 16-0, and faced Dodge city freshman Juan Avalos, who entered 0-0, in the 145 division. Weber pinned Avalos, giving Great Bend a 6-4 lead in the match.

Dodge City sophomore Marcelino Otero then took on Great Bend junior Gage Fritz in the 152 matchup, losing by technical fall to give the Panthers 5 more points and an 11-4 lead. Panther junior Alex Randolph then pinned Demon junior Josh Bertholf in the 160 matchup, expanding the Panthers’ lead to 17-4.

But the Red Demons weren’t done fighting.

In the 182 division, junior Ryan Parga won via pin over junior Eli Witte, then senior Julian Galindo narrowly beat senior Andrew Wettengle in the 195 division. The two Red Demon victories cut the Panthers’ lead to 17-16.

The Panthers expanded their lead with a narrow victory in the 220 division as junior Ever Chavez beat Dodge City freshman Isaac Stevens, giving Great Bend a 20-16 lead.

That brought up senior Evan Darville, who gave Dodge City a 22-20 lead when he pinned junior Kevin Miramontes. Freshman Damian Mendez then beat freshman Kaden Spragis in the 106 to expand Dodge City’s lead to 28-20.

Great Bend got 6 free points in the 113 class as Dodge City was unable to field an athlete in that division, which cut the Red Demon lead to 28-26.

Senior Couy Weil reexpanded that lead, pinning sophomore Austin Moore in the 120 match to give the Red Demons a 34-26 lead, but Great Bend junior Drew Liles pinned Dodge City freshman Miguel Aguilera in the 126 match to cut Dodge City’s lead to just 34-32.

Which brought up the 132 match, at which point Great Bend sealed the victory.

Lueders said he kind of expected the ebb and flow of the points to happen the way it did.

“I kind of saw it going back and forth and I knew that we had to do certain things to kind of keep us in the match,” Lueders said. “Our whole goal is to maybe get down to the last match and if we won (it) we won the dual. So that’s exactly what we did, we set ourselves up, and the last match just didn’t go our way.”

The way the team fell behind but didn’t let that cause them to get down on themselves showed a lot about their character, Lueders said.

“There are some big wins (the team had Tuesday),” Lueders said. “Parga’s win at 182, that was a big pin for us and at that point I knew it was looking up.”

Even some of the guys who lost did well. Stevens was one Lueders pointed to as an example of a kid who fought hard and helped the team by not getting pinned, which would have given Great Bend even more points than the ones his efforts forced them to take in winning by decision (victories by decision give a team 3 points, while victories by pin, or “fall” give a team 6).

They were just a resilient group of kids Tuesday night, Lueders said, and he was proud of their effort.

The Red Demons are next in action Jan. 3, 2019 when they head to Garden City to take on the Buffaloes, and are next in action at home Jan. 5, 2019 when they host a multi-team tournament at Dodge City High School.