KINGMAN - It may not have turned out completely like it was hoped for, but after surrendering three weight classes and being without the undefeated William Stemkoski, the Kingman High wrestling team took a lot of positives from the Buckeye Invitational that finished last Saturday.
The Bulldogs compiled an 18-21 record in their individual matches to come away with a 19th-place finish out of 24 teams. Had Stemkoski, who was absent for family reasons, been there, it is conceivable KHS would have made a push for the top 10.
Brian Martins, at 171 pounds, had the best results for the Bulldogs. Martins took fourth place in the division with a 4-2 record. Martins was pinned by Trevor Saxman of Glendale Raymond Kellis for third place, and his season record stands at 18-3.
"I was disappointed I lost two, though the first loss was to the eventual champion," Martins said of Robert Alvarado of Phoenix La Joya. "This should be the last time I lose. I'm going to drop to 152 after the break. Those guys at 171 are just so heavy."
Josh Canez took fifth place in the 160-pound division, defeating Ryan Pace of Avondale Estrella Foothills in the final match. Canez was knocked out of the running for third when he was pinned by Michael Madrid of Avondale. Canez had defeated Madrid Dec. 11.
"Josh was tied with Madrid until he got caught on his back," KHS coach Brandon Clor said. "But he has a fire in his eyes. I'm real excited about how hard he's been wrestling."
Canez' record is 12-3.
The only other Bulldog to place was Kevin Davies at 119. Davies posted a 4-3 record in Buckeye to move to 13-6. Davies lost twice to Mark King of Estrella Foothills at Buckeye, and King has handed Davies four of his six losses this year.
"It stinks to have wrestled the same guy four times," Davies said. "Every time we've wrestled, I've tried something new. Hopefully, I'll figure it out one day."
Davies has faced King so often, Clor has developed a relationship with King. "I'm beginning to have conversations with him about his life," said Clor.
The Bulldogs next wrestle on Jan. 8 against Anthem Boulder Creek at KHS, and Clor is satisfied where KHS stands.
"As a whole, we wrestled the best we have all year," Clor said of Buckeye. "We should be at full strength and not have to forfeit any weight (after the break)."