Goddard wrestling coach Brett Means changed up his lineup for Senior Night on Thursday, but the reason behind it had less to do with seniors and more with a certain sophomore.
“Cayden Atkins is one of our better non-varsity kids, and has done very well wrestling varsity when people are injured, so I thought it would be better to put him in and bump everybody up,” Means said.
Putting in Atkins at 170 pushed Troy Fisher (ranked No. 1 at 170 in Class 5A) to 182, Austin Andres (No. 3 at 182) to 195, and Cale Davidson (No. 1 at 195) to 220.
The juggling worked well for the top-ranked Lions, who got 16 points from the four classes which turned out to be the margin of victory over second-ranked Arkansas City, 38-22.
“They wrestled real well,” Means said. “We’re happy, but the work has just begun. Regionals are next week (at Goddard), and state the week after.”
Means said the regional is stacked with top-flight competition.
“We’ve got some weight classes where the top four in 5A are at our regional,” he said. “It ought to be a good regional.”
Just as it did in last year’s dual at Ark City, Goddard spotted the Bulldogs an early lead.
“They’re stronger in the lower weights, and we’re stronger in the upper weights,” Means said.
But then the Lions got to the heart of the batting order, getting victories from Garrett Lange at 145 (4-2 decision), Kameron Frame at 152 (technical fall), Kendall Frame at 160 (fall) before Atkins’ 4-1 decision at 170.
Atkins was the aggressor throughout his match against Nicholas Bohm, and his victory was the fourth of seven straight by the Lions.
By then, Goddard was comfortably ahead 25-16, and its lead grew to 38-16 before Ark City’s Tyler Shannon got a pin at 285 to provide the final margin.
Afterward, Means said the altered lineup was a good reward for Atkins.
“He’s filled in for injuries and sickness and worked his butt off,” Means said. “He deserved to be in there (Thursday night) on this special, special night.”
The Lions will be gunning for their third consecutive 5A title when the play host to regionals Feb. 17-18.
One of the keys Thursday for Goddard was going 3-0 in matchups of ranked wrestlers. Lane Glover, one of six seniors in the lineup and ranked third in 5A, edged out second-ranked Montez Robinson in overtime, 3-2.
“That was a big win for Lane,” Means said. “The last time we wrestled (Robinson) a couple of weeks ago, Lane lost in overtime. So, it goes back and forth.
“Ark City’s tough. That’s why they’re ranked No. 2. We knew we had our hands full.”
In other ranked matchups, top-ranked Kendall Frame scored a 17-2 triumph over No. 4 Colton Watters, and No. 1 Lange’s 4-2 decision came over No. 5 Corbin Hockenbury.
A bright spot for Ark City was Christian Robinson’s pin of Lucas Glover at 113. Robinson used his slender body and height advantage to take a an 8-4 lead before getting the pin. Jake Beeson, top-ranked at 138, won a major decision over Trevor Dopps that gave the Bulldogs a 16-8 lead before Goddard began its run.
Ark City coach Greg Buckbee said he knew the Lions would dominate in the middle weights.
“They’re very strong from (145) to about 195, 220 range,” he said.
He said he knew the lower weights had to provide a bigger lead that the Bulldogs just didn’t get.
“Not getting some bonus points early in the lower weights where we needed them was the key,” he said. “We knew that coming in that would be what we needed to do, and we just didn’t get it done.”
106 – Buckbee, Ark City, dec. Henschel, 6-2. 113 – C. Robinson, Ark City, pinned Lucas Glover, 5:11. 120 – W. Spexarth, Goddard, open. 126 – Marcus Robinson, Ark City, dec. G. Spexarth, 13-10. 132 – Lane Glover, Goddard, dec. Montez Robinson, 3-2, OT. 138 – Beeson, Ark City, maj. dec. Dopps, 10-1. 145 – Lange, Goddard, dec. Hockenbury, 4-2. 152 – Kameron Frame, Goddard, tech. fall. Watters, 17-2. 160 – Kendall Frame, Goddard, pinned Manning, 1:06. 170 – Atkins, Goddard, dec. Bahm, 4-1. 182 – Fisher, Goddard, pinned Collins, 0:51. 195 – Andres, Goddard, maj. dec. Miller, 13-4. 220 – Davidson, Goddard, dec. Nickum, 9-2. 285 – Shannon, Ark City, pinned Parks, 3:58.