By CONOR NICHOLL
COLBY – Four Lakin girls’ wrestlers and the coaching staff shared smiles, hugs and pictures on the Colby High School gymnasium floor after the Class 4-1A Colby regional concluded Saturday. Lakin brought four wrestlers to regional and qualified all four to the state meet. The Broncs collected a team runner-up showing to Hoisington and regional plaque.
“It was a great day for the whole team,” Lakin coach Jim Christiansen said. “Bring four girls, and you get four qualifiers, can’t do any better than that.”
Two of the Lakin wrestlers, sisters Josiah and Isabell Ortiz, are among the state’s most-well known girls. Both compete for Team Kansas. Josiah, a junior, stands at 28-0. She is unequivocally the best 109-pound girl wrestler in the state for all classes. A former state champion, Isabell is 30-1 this winter. A senior, Isabell shared the regional wrestler of the year honor with Hoxie’s Marissa Porsch and has committed to Baker University.
“Get to know the Hoxie people, too, quite a bit,” Christiansen said. “They watch our kids, we cheer on theres, so it’s pretty cool, it’s kind of like another family.”
In the last couple years, the Ortiz girls have served as Lakin’s lone girl wrestlers. This season, freshman Luna Vazquez (13-16) qualified fourth at 101. Sophomore Ivy Davis (13-16) was fourth at 132. Ivy is the Ortiz’s step-sister.
“It’s been great,” Josiah said. “Just seeing people that you love just also achieve things with you, being to share that moment is very exciting and very heartwarming.”
“We just bring in Luna in as if she is just another sister to us,” Isabell added.
The top-four in each weight class qualified for state. Class 6-5A is at Park City’s Hartman Arena, and 4-1A is at Salina’s Tony’s Pizza Events Center. Both competitions are Feb. 23-24.
Davis took a couple of years off from wrestling before she returned to the sport. Vazquez competed on the Lakin middle school team.
“They have battled all year,” Christiansen said. “It’s just tough to get into that high school, but you can see at the end of the year, they did what we asked them to do, and they are state qualifiers.”
At regional, Vazquez finished 2-2, including a bye victory. Josiah Ortiz had a bye, and then won three matches by fall. That included a championship in 1 minute, 29 seconds against Oakley’s Citori Bosserman, a defending state champion. Isabell beat Colby’s Kathie Chavez, 7-1, in the final. It marked the second time this winter that Isabell beat Chavez in a decision with the first at the Cimarron tournament.
“Chavez is a tough girl,” Christiansen said. “So if Isabell is on her game, takedowns is what we have, and she got takedowns, and that was the difference today.”
Of the 79 teams that qualified a wrestler to 4-1A state, Pratt, which earned state runner-up last season and is the significant state favorite, has the most with nine. Four Greenback wrestlers are strong state title favorites and three others are firmly in the mix for a top-four showing.
There are seven wrestlers that have reached 100 career wins, per research from historian David Heidrick, SIK’s Conor Nicholl and Track Wrestling archives. Pratt has two of them with Livia Swift and Jadyn Thompson. Ava Thompson is also 98-3 in her career.
Overall, Isabell is 105-16 in her career, Josiah stands at 81-8. Josiah is ranked first at 109, and Isabell stands first at 115 in the latest team rankings released Tuesday. The top-five teams are: Pratt, Wellington, Lakin, Holton and Chapman.
Columbus has eight state qualifiers. Chanute, Santa Fe Trail, Hoisington, Holton and Eureka qualified six. Defending state champion Baldwin and Smoky Valley have five. Burlington, Lakin, Silver Lake, Tonganoxie, Eudora, Mulvane and Norton have four. Josiah is one of 10 undefeated wrestlers in the field and is tied for the third-most victories among those with perfect marks.
As a freshman in 2019, Isabell was one of the few current seniors to compete at the unofficial girls’ state championship at McPherson, the last meet before the sport was sanctioned. Isabell took fourth at 106 and finished with a 12-1 record.
That included wins against Abilene’s Skyleigh Pflaster, along with Breckyn Elliott and Burlington’s MJ Huff. Elliott became a multiple-time state medalist. Huff is 37-1 this winter and 103-22 in her career. She is currently ranked second at 101 entering state.
Two years ago, at the inaugural all-classes KSHSAA state tournament, Lakin finished seventh with 35 points. Josiah (27-6) earned fourth at 101. Isabell (30-4) took third at 109.
Last season, Josiah defeated Wellington’s Anna Cullens and Abilene’s Skyleigh Pflaster at sub-state. She earned the top wrestler honor at the Ellis sub-state. Cullens and Pflaster eventually went 1-2 at state. Lakin was seventh at Class 4-1A state with 33 points.
At 109, Josiah finished 26-2 and took fifth. At 115, Isabell was 29-4 and earned first. She joined Dalton Davis and Hadley Panzer (current K-State lineman) as the lone Lakin state champion wrestlers.
This winter, Lakin has purposefully found the best competition in the western/central half of Kansas. That’s helped the Ortiz duo, along with Davis and Vazquez.
This winter, Josiah earned decision wins versus Wichita North’s Larissa Garcia, along with a pair of victories versus Mulvane’s Leiannah Landreth and two victories against Hays High’s Sarah Zimmerman.
Landreth, a standout freshman, is 32-2 overall. Zimmerman is 26-4 this winter and 77-19 in her career. Garcia is 35-4. Landreth is ranked second in 109 in 4-1A behind Josiah. Zimmerman and Garcia are 1-2 at 109 in 5-6A.
“We go find competitions, so (regional) isn’t the biggest stage, no,” Christiansen said. “…It helps our younger girls, too.”