DERBY — How does a team that lost four state champions seemingly feel no effect from that exodus and continue to perform at a high level?
For the Goddard wrestling program, the defending Class 6A champion, there are two schools of thought.
"It's all about the coaches," said senior Josh Hicks, who wrestles at 215 pounds. "They are constantly pushing us to get better."
Coach Brett Means: "We've had wrestlers at the junior varsity level who have had to go against elite talent for so long and now they are reaping the rewards from that. We have a lot of stories like that in our program."
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Whichever the case, Goddard displayed its depth and talent yet again Saturday as the Lions rolled to the Derby Invitational title, winning by 11 points over Valley Center.
"We made some mistakes, but to win this kind of tournament... I'm pretty happy," Means said. "We still have a ways to go, but I thought our boys wrestled real well."
Despite having only two champions, Goddard used nearly its entire lineup en route to winning its second consecutive Derby Invite. The Lions had two-second place finishes, four third-place finishes, a fourth place and three sixth-place finishers.
Hicks defeated Titus Hopper from Valley Center 2-1 in a match where neither wrestler established any flow. Hicks' only point came off an escape in the second period. His other point was a result of a stalling call by the official.
"I had great endurance today," Hicks said. "We've been training all year and it paid off."
The Lions' other champion came at 103, where Kaleb Bonilla defeated Great Bend's Chris Burley 7-5. With two takedowns in the third period, Bonilla improved his record to 17-0.
"I did a good job on my halves," Bonilla said. "I expected to win today."
The most dramatic match of the night came at 135, where Taylor Moeder of Saint James' Academy ended Valley Center's Chase Nitcher's 71-match winning streak with a 3-1 victory in four overtimes.
Nitcher led first with an escape in the second period, but Moeder added an escape in the third period.
Following a takedown in the fourth overtime, Moeder concluded an impressive run through the bottom half of the bracket.
"He wrestled great, so I can't be disappointed about a good match," Nitcher said. "I mean, I wanted to win, but everybody has to lose sometime."
Cade Blair (152) and Codie Dean (112) both won titles for the Hornets.
Goddard 190, Valley Center 179, Derby 176, Pittsburg 155, W. Heights 131, Ark City 123 1/2, El Dorado 88 1/2, St. James Academy 80, W. South 67, Winfield 48, Great Bend 46, Bishop Carroll 43, Rose Hill 22, Silver Lake 18, Wellington 15.
105—1. Bonilla, G, def. Burley, GB, 7-5; 3. Jones, P, def. Mancuso, SJ, 8-3. 112— 1. Dean, VC, pinned Helms, AC, 1:16; 3. Martinez, G, maj. dec. Fields, P, 14-6. 119— Seybold, P, def. Walters, AC, 9-3; 3. Lemon, G, def. Feller, ED, 8-3. 125— 1. D. Deshazer, WH, def. Lamar, SL, 3-2; 3. G. Jones, AC, def. Mertins, VC, 5-3. 130— 1. Corado, P, def. McComb, D, 5-2; 3. Belle, G, pinned Belnap, RH, 3:30. 135— 1. Moeder, SJ, def. Nitscher, VC, 3-1 (OT); 3. Biddle, AC, def. U. Deshazer, WH, 9-1. 140— 1. Little, D, pinned Oliver, Win., 2:58; 3. Houlden, G, def. Schwager, GB, 4-2. 145— 1. Shavlik, D, McGoldrick, VC, 3-1; 3. Terry, AC, def. Elliott, G, 3-1. 152— 1. Blair, VC, def. Cokeley, SJ, 3-2 (OT); 3. Penka, BC, def. Long, D, 8-1. 160— 1. Jameson, WH, def. Marr, AC, 3-1 (OT); 3. Cortez, ED, def. Collins, WS, 5-3. 171— 1. Reed, WH, pinned Keith, BC, 1:47; 3. Chavez, D, def. Jones, WS, 1-0. 189— 1. Walker, ED, def. Beard, G, 8-3; 3. Carpenter, D, def. Brandon, WS, 3-0. 215— 1. Hicks, G, def. Hopper, VC, 2-1; 3. Br. Bennett, P, pinned Moon, D, 2:55. 285— 1. Be. Bennett, P, def. Woodruff, G, 5-4; 3. Weldon, VC, def. Brown, ED, 8-1.