By CONOR NICHOLL
COLBY — On June 17, Team Kansas competed at the girls’ wrestling Junior National Duals in Tulsa, Okla. Kansas featured 12 wrestlers, including Wichita North sisters Rodah and Bilhah Bengi, along with the Lakin sibling duo of Isabell and Josiah Ortiz.
Plus, Kansas had Hoxie’s Marissa Porsch, Abilene’s Lyndsey Buechman and Ellsworth’s Sierra Lanning at 138, 180 and 200 pounds, respectively. The group included Olathe South’s Nicole Redmond, Lawrence Free State’s Madyson Gray, Goddard’s AshLynn Goodwin and Prairie View’s Alyssa Page.
“We are just like a big family,” Isabell Ortiz said. “And the family just keeps growing, and the sport just keeps growing, and it’s just nice to just spread cheers throughout everyone.”
Kansas lost to Indiana (39-29), beat Arkansas (47-20), lost to Oklahoma Outlaws (33-29) and beat Iowa (35-27). Kansas also defeated a Pennsylvania squad, 42-20, North Dakota, 47-17, South Carolina, 33-23, Iowa 33-25, and a Missouri squad, 36-26. Kansas won its six-team pool.
“There is a lot of way better competition out on those duals, because there are different states, and you just get to see like different moves and learn more from those tournaments,” Isabell Ortiz said. “But it’s fun to just go out there, and just do a different style of wrestling, and just get ready for college, because that’s the type of wrestling that we are going to be wrestling.”
This winter, those Team Kansas teammates have formed many of the top Kansas wrestlers in the third year of KSHSAA sanctioned girls’ wrestling. On Saturday, girls competed at regionals in 4-1A and 5-6A. Five of those girls were at the Colby regional: the Ortiz sisters, Porsch, Buechman and Lanning.
All those wrestlers finished either as regional champion or regional runner-up. Top-four in each regional qualified for state.
The Ortiz duo, Porsch and Buechman all captured regional crowns. Lanning finished second to Chapman’s Grace Johns, who didn’t compete with Team Kansas, though did wrestle last summer at the elite national level in Fargo, North Dakota.
The Ortiz sisters and Porsch are ranked first in their weight classes by the Kansas coaches. Buechman is ranked second, Johns first and Lanning fourth.
Porsch and Isabell Ortiz shared regional wrestler of the year honors at Colby.
“She is like wrestling family to me, so it was pretty cool to share that moment with her,” Isabell said.
“No one else I’d rather split it with,” Porsch added.
Hoisington, featured on SIK last week, rolled to the Colby regional title with 109 points. The Cardinals and league rival Pratt are likely the top-two teams entering state. Hoisington, ranked fifth by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association entering regional, was 43 points ahead of runner-up Lakin.
Sophomore Sheena Gocela (21-4) was the Cardinals’ lone regional champion with a 101-pound title. She won two matches via first period falls and an 18-5 major decision in the title. Hoisington qualified six for state. Veteran Hoisington coach Dan Schmidt earned Colby regional coach of the year honors.
The Broncs qualified all four of their wrestlers for state. Along with the Ortiz girls, Luna Vazquez (13-16) qualified at 101, and Ivy Davis (9-15) reached at 132. Both finished fourth. Lakin consistently faced larger schools throughout the season.
“When you have two girls the caliber of Isabell and Josiah, you’ve got to (schedule tough) – when you want to see who the best is, and we go find competition,” Lakin coach Jim Christiansen said. “And it helps our younger girls, too.”
At 109, Josiah, a junior, improved to 28-0 with a win by fall in 1 minute, 29 seconds against Oakley junior Citori Bosserman, a defending state champion. It marked the first meeting for the pair this winter. For 116, Isabell bumped to 30-1 in her senior season with a 7-1 title against Colby sophomore Kathie Chavez.
Isabell is a defending state champion. She and Porsch have been among the first 10 girls in Kansas history to clear 100 career wrestling victories.
“It was a lot of fun, and both of the Ortiz girls are really, really nice girls, and they had done the summer wrestling before,” Porsch said. “Last year was my first year doing it, and they really made me feel welcome, and really helped me like adjust.”
Isabell has committed to Baker University, which has signed many girls with Team Kansas ties in the last several years.
“I know like most of half of the girls on the team,” Isabell said. “There are just like family to me as well. They are very welcoming, and I am excited to start the next journey.”
In the marquee 138-pound final, Porsch held off Hoisington junior Tally Wikum. Porsch and Wikum had faced each other in the past, though not this year. Porsch said Wikum delivered “good shots” and is “definitely pretty strong.”
This could be a title rematch at Salina on Feb. 23-24. Both girls had the lead, but Porsch made a key second period move and won 9-4. Porsch is 33-1, and Wikum stands at 20-1. Porsch ranked first, Wikum second.
“It was a pretty sticky match,” Hoxie coach Mike Porsch said. “Gave up a takedown. Just made it close but came back. She scored when she needed to. … Got tough on bottom. It was a good match to have this time of year.”
Johns, a sophomore, moved to 17-1 with a 4-1 victory against Lanning. A junior, Lanning stands at 16-4. Last year, state had just the final eight wrestlers because of COVID-19 restrictions instead of the normal 16. Johns qualified fifth at sub-state, one spot away from state.
Buechman has enjoyed a dominant season with a 50-second pin in Saturday’s final versus Colby junior Tessa Hill and improved to 23-0. Buechman started wrestling since she was four. Like many girls, she had to first compete against boys, and then girls “every now and then.” She saw the sport “take off” in middle school with national competitions. This year, Kansas numbers continued to grow with more than 1,500 girls involved.
“I am really happy about that, and just the improvement, and the growth that Kansas has seen overall,” Buechman said. “It’s just makes me really happy to finally see that, starting when I was younger, I didn’t know if that was possible for me, and it’s been a blast watching it grow.”
She finished second at 160 pounds at a freshman at the unofficial state tournament at McPherson. Buechman delivered a state runner-up as a sophomore, and third place last winter.
After the tournament and the award announcement, the Ortizs, Porsch, Buechman and Johns took photos together on the Colby gymnasium floor with their brackets.
“It’s great to get to talk to them and get to meet up with them,” Buechman said. “Of course, we are all from different parts of Kansas, and when we get together, it’s amazing to see how they are doing, we try and follow each other and talk throughout the year, but it’s great to see them and watch them wrestle.”
Porsch finished fourth as a sophomore at 28-11 and third last winter at 43-2. The 43 victories is the most by any Kansas girl wrestler in the previous two seasons. This year, her only loss came against Gray in a 4-0 decision at the Washburn Rural tournament for arguably the premier match in Kansas this winter. Josiah took fourth and fifth the past two winters.
All five wrestlers will be favored to win state titles next week, though notably Porsch and Buechman have thought little about state before regionals. Mike Porsch, Marissa’s dad, doesn’t talk about wins and losses. Marissa looks to focus “one tournament at a time.”
“Been special, because it is my senior year,” Buechman said. “So I have really just been trying to enjoy it all, and just trying to get better every week is pretty much what I have focused on, just improving on every position I can.”
Pratt dominates; Coakley beats Schanz is marquee matchup; J. Thompson hits milestone
At Whitewater-Remington, Pratt dominated with 173 points, while Wellington was second with 104. Those are currently the top-two teams in the 4-1A rankings. Hoisington has defeated Pratt at two meets this year, though the Greenbacks missed key wrestlers at one and have plenty of elite talent. The Greenbacks are the defending state runner-up to Baldwin and have been the state favorite throughout the year.
For Pratt, Lilly Herrman (16-6) qualified second at 101, and Daisy Herrman (16-7) took third at 109. Wendy Candia (15-11) took third at 126. Emmaline Primrose (17-9) finished second at 138, and Lexia Taylor earned a surprising fourth at 170.
Then, the Greenbacks have its elite quartet, all whom are ranked first or second. They all won regional championships. At 120, Jadyn Thompson (34-1). For 132, Keimarla Thompson (17-0) dominated with falls in 28 seconds, 20 seconds and 51 seconds.
Two-time defending state champion Livia Swift (32-2) earned a tiebreaker win against Circle’s Katelyn Schmidt in the 143-pound title. At 191, Ava Thompson (32-0) had a 5-2 win against Buhler’s Emilee Schweizer, who entered 11-0. Pratt coach Tate Thompson earned Regional Coach of the Year.
Jadyn Thompson hit her 100th career victory in the championship. Swift hit the mark earlier this winter.
For Wellington, Anna Cullens, a defending state champion, moved to 20-0 with a 101-pound title. Nexy Young (25-4) earned the 115-pound title. Kaitlyn Hain (31-1) captured the 138-pound championship.
Mulvane qualified four to state, including a 109-pound championship for Leiannah Landreth (31-2) with three falls. Defending state titlist Kammie Schanz (14-3) finished second against Douglass’ Jewella Cokeley at 155 with a 6-3 decision. Cokeley stands at 29-0.
Columbus captures title; Page wins for Prairie View
At Chanute, Columbus continued its fine season. The Titans, featured on SIK this year and southeast Kansas’ top wrestling team, won the Chanute regional with 161.5 points. Eureka was second with 114 points. At 109, Addison Saporito (24-1) earned a marquee title match against Burlington’s Eowynn Reynard by fall in 2:52. Reynard is 36-3 and had cleared 100 career victories.
For 120, Sophie Lloyd (21-7) was second, and Madelyn Garcia (21-12) finished third at 126. Aubree Saporito (18-15) earned third at 132. Brooklyn Lima (22-8) won the 138-pound championship.
Jailyn Rodriguez (19-11) was third at 143, and Emily Welch (19-8) took fourth at 155.
Prairie View’s Alyssa Page, part of the Team Kansas squad, won a regional title at 155. She improved to 29-3 and went 4-0 at regional, including a sudden victory versus Eureka’s Skylee Dodd. PV had two other champions. Kylee Eastwood (29-5) won at 170, and Whitley Cox-Halliburton (11-6) earned the 235-pound title.
Holton qualifies one for state last year – won regional this year
At Baldwin, Holton was first with 125 points, Santa Fe Trail took second at 107, and Baldwin third with 89. Holton’s Piper Robinson (26-6) won at 115, and Macey Gross (25-6) took second at 120.
Gracie Gallagher (25-9) took third at 132, while Sadie Walker (29-4) won at 143. Madeline Montgomery (24-7) took second at 191. Karoline Tannahill (9-9) qualified at 235. Holton has made massive gains from last season. Gross was the Wildcats’ lone state qualifier in 2021 when she went 20-8 and took fourth at 126.
5A-6A: Washburn Rural qualifies 11 of possible 12 wrestlers
In 5-6A, the top-three teams throughout the season have been two-time defending state champion Washburn Rural, Wichita North and Dodge City. Rural again dominated with 220.5 points at its own regional, well ahead of runner-up Emporia with 150.5 points.
Rural qualified a remarkable 11 of 12 wrestlers. At 101, Kristen Rezac (33-6) took second, and Kaitlyn Morris (23-9) earned second at 109.
At 115, Kendall Reid (24-12) finished first, as did Addison Broxterman (39-2) at 120. Annie Gallegos (24-7) took second at 126, and Alexis Frederickson (38-4) was first at 132.
Madison Davison (27-13) finished fourth at 138, and Laiken Clark (28-11) took second at 143. At 155, Jaliah Johnson (36-3) earned third. Ta’Ani Rhoten (19-8) took third at 170. Sophia Ross (27-13) was fourth at 235.
Reid and Johnson are the lone two seniors for Rural. Morris, Frederickson, Broxterman are juniors. The sophomores are Rezac, Clark and Ross. The Junior Blues have three freshmen: Gallegos, Davison and Rhoten.
Rural continues to retool with a new group this winter. The returning state placers are Broxterman (second), Frederickson (fifth) and Johnson (third).
Dodge City qualifies 10; beats Wichita North at North; Garden City’s Guzman beats Goodwin
Last week, Hoisington coach Dan Schmidt called Dodge City an underrated team. DC rolled at the Wichita North regional with 179.5 points. Wichita North took second at 142.5 points, and Garden City third with 107.
Dodge City qualified 10 to state and will look to battle with Washburn Rural. Jessica Rivera (24-8) took third at 101. Ashley Alonso (28-10) earned fourth with 109. Denys Ochoa (16-13) finished third at 120. Valeria Hernandez (18-13) took fourth at 143.
Dodge City had multiple first/second place finishes. At 126, Ariana De La Rosa (28-3) won the championship with an 8-7 win versus Great Bend’s Daizy Gomez in the title.
At 132, Hailey Ramos (29-6) finished second to Great Bend’s Bre Ridgeway, who won a state title last winter. Ridgeway is 33-1. At 138, Dayanara Garcia (23-9) earned second.
Ashley Arroyo (30-5) and Jolette Almaraz (25-3) captured championships at 155 and 170, respectively. Sindy Guiterrez (11-9) finished second at 235.
In a slight upset at 143, Garden City’s Alondra Guzman earned a 2-1 decision against Goodard’s Ashlynn Goodwin. Guzman moved to 27-6. Goodwin took her first loss and moved to 29-1.
Wichita North qualified eight for state. At 101, Bilhah Bengi (29-7) took second to Liberal’s Mana Chanthasone. Larissa Garcia (35-4) also finished second at 109.
Rodah Bengi (36-0) stayed perfect at 115. Benghi won by first-period fall, a technical fall and a major decision win. Diana Urista (34-4) won the 120-pound championship. Sandra Arellano (29-7) earned third at 132.
Edna Flores (23-12) took second at 170, Nathalia Hernandez-Martinez (3-14) was fourth at 191. Emily Jasenthuleanage (15-16) was third at 235.
Undefeated Gray and Stean dominate at Topeka Seaman
Shawnee Heights, which won the United Kansas Conference championship, picked up a regional title with 141 points. Topeka Seaman was 14 points behind. Bonner Springs took third with 94 points, and Basehor-Linwood fourth with 92.
For SH, Odessa Schmidt (18-9) finished second. Molly Busenitz (24-1) won the 115-pound title. Alexandria Buce (3-2) took fourth at 120. Reece Taylor (16-12) was third at 126. Haley Haltom (22-8) finished third at 132. Madison Freeland (18-9) was fourth at 138.
At 143, McKenna Haltom (22-8) took second at 143. Maranda Bell (23-1) was dominant at 191 with wins at 1:30, 24 seconds and 59 seconds.
SH had two state placers last winter. Bell was the lone one who returned after a third-place showing.
The regional had huge performances from Lawrence Free State’s Madyson Gray, who remained undefeated in her career. A two-time defending champion, Gray is 32-0 and won all three matches by fall in 47 seconds, 3:19 and 1:13. Gray is 87-0 in her career, per Track Wrestling archives.
At 170, Olivia Stean (38-0) delivered an impressive run. A defending state champion, Stean, a sophomore, won by fall in eight seconds, 29 seconds and picked up a forfeit win in the final.
Olathe Northwest fends off challengers to win Spring Hill regional – big improvement from last winter; Redmond wins
Olathe Northwest won the Spring Hill regional with 133 points. Spring Hill took second with 123, and Olathe North with 120.5. Northwest had multiple individual titles. Camryn West (4-0) won at 101, and Emmy Keller (12-4) took first at 109.
Hailey Arthur (11-8) finished second at 132. Caroline Foeller (15-4) won at 143. Chloe Harris (22-4) captured the 155-pound championship. Val Gilligan (27-6) took first at 170.
Northwest had two state qualifiers last winter in Foeller and Harris, and neither one scored a point at state.
Olathe South’s Nicole Redmond (32-1) won the 126-pound regional title. Redmond earned a win by fall in 48 seconds, a 5:40 fall and a technical fall in the championship.