High School Sports

Finals wins help Goddard win 6A again

When Goddard coach Brett Means took a step back to look at all that transpired on Saturday at the Class 6A wrestling tournament, he came up with "Miracle on the Mat."

He might not be overstating that.

Goddard's streak as 6A team champion continued when the Lions edged Derby by 1 1/2 points for their third straight team title and fourth in five years.

Goddard wasn't a favorite coming into the season — not after losing two four-time champs, not after losing two other state champs. And the Lions weren't favored coming into the tournament. After all, they brought 11 wrestlers, fewer than second-place Derby, fewer than third-place Heights.

"We did it with a bunch of kids that nobody had maybe heard of," Means said. "We had 11 guys, everyone scored one point here, two points there, a point here, a point there. It was a team effort by a bunch of guys that no one expected them to do well."

Goddard had four finalists and got victories from Kaleb Bonilla (103 pounds), Trey Houlden (140) and Dalton Beard (189).

For Derby, it was another in a string of heartbreaking losses to Goddard.

"It hurts, it does," Derby coach Bill Ross said. "I'm not going to lie. It does hurt. I'm sad for these kids. They gave it all they had. I'm proud of them. It hurts for all of them."

Heights had a shot at the title, as well. But while junior Daniel Deshazer won at 125 pounds, Heights lost its other two finals matches.

"It's one of those things where (third) wasn't the goal, but it's also not a bad thing," Heights coach Mike Church said. "This wasn't the year that we were supposed to make a run, but we still made a run through the tournament."

After Friday's matches, Means had resigned himself to Goddard possibly finishing second or even third.

"When I went home last night, I knew we had scored a lot of points and I wasn't sure we would score a lot of points (Saturday)," Means said. "I was convincing myself, 'Be happy with second or third.' "

It could have stayed that way. Derby had a strong showing in consolation matches and held the lead for most of the day after getting two third places, a fourth, a fifth and three sixth-place finishes.

"I liked how they wrestled with heart," Ross said. "We lost several matches that were really close, but everybody battled today. Not one person went out there and felt sorry for themselves."

But it didn't stay that way. Derby had two in the finals — Bradley Little at 140 pounds and Cody Shavlik at 145. Both lost.

Little's loss to Houlden was a key match because it was head-to-head against Derby.

Houlden did it in exciting fashion when, with 24 seconds remaining and trailing Little 2-1, he grabbed Little's leg. Fourteen seconds later, Houlden threw Little to the mat and got the two points for the win.

"That was scary," said Houlden, who finished second in 2009. "It was pretty close, and I was down by one, but I pulled it off at the end, baby."

Houlden ran in a circle on the mat, yelling "yeah" multiple times, he pumped his arms, he pointed to the crowd. After he left the mat, he raced over to where his teammates stood, he jumped into the arms of friends, he yelled a few more times, hugged some more people and found his brother.

Ryan Houlden, a 2008 state champ for Goddard at 145 pounds, hugged his little brother. The emotion was thick and intense. He had returned from Afghanistan, where he is deployed with the Army, specifically to see his brother wrestle.

"I let them know I wanted to see my brother," Ryan Houlden said. "They were cool about it.

" (Seeing him win), it was just as cool as me winning."

While it was Bonilla who got Goddard off on the right foot by winning the first title of the day, it was Beard who clinched it.

A reserved junior, he's constantly been in the shadow of his brother, Boaz, who won his fourth title in 2009. He's battled the expectations of people who think he should be the same amazing wrestler.

Saturday he validated himself as a top-caliber wrestler when he beat Wichita Southeast's Alex Chaparro 3-2.

"I know that I might not be as good as my brother, but I did just win state," Beard said. "I even drilled with him before this, practiced with him. He lets me hit my moves right."

That win gave Goddard the final margin in the team title race, and it had the normally stoic Means smiling.

"I didn't see how we could do it, but as long as there was hope, I was hoping," Means said.