DERBY — Before the season, Derby wrestling coach Bill Ross said his team lacked some of the star power that other teams in the area possess, and by having so many unknowns, maybe the Panthers could sneak up on teams.
After rolling over Arkansas City, the No. 7 team in Class 5A, Derby showed in its 46-23 victory Thursday night that it could compete for a state title again.
"Our goal was to not get out-hustled in any of the matches," Ross said. "I thought our conditioning was really good, considering it was the first match."
The Panthers used six pins in their first 10 matches to quickly put away Ark City. At one point, Derby had three straight pins and all of them came within the first minute of the match, bumping Derby's lead from 13 points to 31.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"We know what our team's strong points are and they are in the middle and at the end," said Derby 285-pounder Travis Anderson, who pinned Alejandro Mejia. "It worked out well for us that we started our lineup at 135, so we could jump out to a big lead. Those three pins late sealed the match for us."
One of the night's premier matches came at 130, where Derby's Skyler McComb is ranked second in 6A while Ark City's Cody Eastman is ranked fifth in 5A.
McComb had a pair of takedowns in the first period and a reversal in the third period on the way to a 6-4 victory.
"I felt like I could have put more points on the board, but it was a good victory," McComb said,"... It was solid and a good way to start the season."
Ross wasn't expecting such a dominant performance in the opener, but he wasn't surprised, either.
"Our kids wrestled with a lot of heart tonight and I've come to expect that," Ross said. "There are some things we need to work on, but for the first time out it was a good effort."
Derby 46, Ark City 23
103—Wells, D pinned Koenke, AC, :26; 112— Dritrich, AC, def Je. Morrow, D, 9-8 (officials' ruling); 119— Mendez, AC def Metler, D, 6-1; 125— Watters, AC def Ayer, D, 10-2; 130— McComb, D def Eastman, AC, 6-4; 135 —Heinecker, D pinned Villers, AC, 4:42; 140— Little, D def Dice, AC, 11-3; 145— Becker, D pinned Hockenbury, AC, 2:23; 152— Ja. Morrow, D def Barclay, AC, 10-4; 160— Terry, AC pinned Santillon, D, 5:22; 171— Schoeppel, D pinned Cox, AC, 3:26; 189— Hoag, AC pinned Gordan, D, 4:32; 215— Marlatt, D pinned McGrew, AC, :14; 285— Anderson, D pinned Mejia, AC, :29.