By MIKE COURSON
Great Bend Post
The Lady Panther wrestlers dropped out of the Class 6-5A rankings heading into Saturday's regional tournament in Dodge City. The only thing that mattered out West was making the top four in each bracket and qualifiying for state. Six Lady Panther wrestlers did just that and Great Bend scored 156 points for fourth in the toughest of the four 6-5A regionals. No. 2 Dodge City won with 190 points, followed by top-ranked Garden City with 174.5 points. No. 7 Derby scored 161 points for third, and No. 4 Hays also scored 156 points.
It could not be regional competition without another showdown between Lady Panther senior Daizy Gomez, ranked No. 2 at 130 pounds, and Dodge City senior Ariana De La Rosa, ranked No. 4. Gomez pinned her first two opponents in short order, including a 41-second win against fellow state qualifier Emma Vogel from Hays. De La Rosa was able to beat Gomez 5-4 for the championship.
Freshman Camdyn Post navigated her way through a tough 105-pound bracket to finish second and qualify for state. Ranked No. 5, Post won her first match against Hays by fall, then avenged an earlier-season loss to fourth-ranked Isabella Gutierrez by pinning her to reach the finals. It got no easier as third-ranked Amara Ehsa, a senior from Derby, defeated Post 14-3 for the championship.
Sophomore Kaylea McMullen advanced to the finals at 125 pounds. Out of the rankings for the first time this season, McMullen still pinned her first two opponents, including sixth-ranked Addison Otte of Hays. The reward was a championship match against top-ranked Maya Tarbet of Garden City, who tech-falled McMullen 17-1.
Sophomore Kirra Stevens also made it to the finals at 170 pounds. After a bye, she needed just 61 seconds to get by her Hays opponent. Goddard junior Breann Bradley held a comfortable lead against Stevens in the third period of the semifinals before Stevens turned it into a pin. Top-seeded Aariyah Jackson of Wichita North, with just four losses on the season, was able to defeat Stevens 3-0 in the finals.
With just eight wrestlers in the 190-pound bracket, Lady Panther sophomore Natalie Daniels had to like her chances to make it to state. Ranked No. 5, she pinned opponents from Ark City and Bishop Carroll to reach the finals. There, she was pinned by second-ranked Hayleen Martinez of Liberal.
Freshman Keira Leyva made the most of a tough bracket at 110 pounds, finishing third to punch her ticket to state. Leyva pinned each of her first two opponents from Maize South and Ark City to reach the semifinals where she was pinned by second-ranked Marina Loera of Garden City. Needing one win to qualify for state, Leyva needed just 89 seconds to pin her Derby opponent. She added a 57-second pin against Hays for good measure and to capture third.
Freshman Kayle Baldwin came up a win shy of state at 100 pounds. After a bye, she advanced to the semifinals with a 6-3 decision against Hays. Third-ranked Kaira Acosta pinned her way to the championship, including a pin against Baldwin in the semis. Baldwin was pinned by the fourth-place finisher from Bishop Carroll in the consolation semifinals.
Sophomore Braelyn Turner also came up one win shy of the state tournament at 120 pounds. She pinned her first opponent from Goddard only to get pinned by third-ranked Tionna Napue, the eventual champion from Hays, in round two. Turner used pins against Wichita South and Derby to reach the blood round where she was pinned by sixth-ranked Alyxia Serrano of Garden City.
Danica Cline was another Lady Panther who came up just short of state with a late loss at 155 pounds. She pinned her first opponent in 55 seconds before getting pinned by third-ranked Liliana Arroyo Alba in the quarters. Cline stayed alive by pinning her Garden City opponent and lost by fall to Ark City in the consolation semifinals. Both of Cline's losses on the day came against state qualifiers.
Josephine Blevins lost her first contested match to Wichita North at 145 pounds. She pinned her next opponent to stay alive, and was leading Wichita Northwest sophomore Lily Land before falling victim to a season-ending pin. Both of Blevins' losses came against state qualifiers.
Shatarah Newton pinned her first opponent at 140 pounds before falling to top-ranked Lexi Burton of Hays in round two. She won a match on the back side but came up a pair of wins shy of state. Kaydence Demel finished her day at 1-2 with a pin at 135 pounds.
This year's Class 6-5A State Wrestling Championships will be held at Park City's Hartman Arena on Feb. 22-24.