The wrestling team from Delta High School finished the 2016 season with some memorable moments.
After coming within one match of winning the 3A Region 4 title and finishing second to Highway 50 rival Olathe, the Panthers qualified nine wrestlers for the state tournament in Denver last weekend.
Delta went through a roller coaster on the mats at the Pepsi Center and finished up with 65 team points, good for fifth place overall.
Valley High School won its third consecutive 3A state title with 144 points. Dolores Huerta was second, Berthoud third and Olathe took fourth with 94 points.
The Panthers started strong on the first day of the tournament and advanced five wrestlers to the quarterfinals, a round that featured enough tough wrestling and drama to fill an entire season.
At 138 pounds, Panthers senior Shaun Staats won a riveting, high-energy match 21-19 against Dolores Huerta's Christian Guerrero to advance to the semifinals.
Staats lost to Valley grappler Aaron Trujillo in that round, then came back in the consolation bracket to post a 3-3 tournament record and claim the sixth-place medal for Delta.
Delta junior Kole Roberts won his thrilling quarterfinal match, beating Erie's Tobias Campbell 6-4 in overtime.
Roberts fell in the semis to Valley's strong senior Zach Damian before finishing 3-2 at state and claiming the fourth-place medal for Delta at 145 pounds.
Each of Delta's other three quarterfinalists fell in that round. Luke Anderson lost a 6-4 heartbreaker in overtime against Brush grappler Caleb Cox.
At 152 pounds, Panthers junior Chance Dillingham was defeated by Eaton senior Rusty Lohr 5-1.
At 170 pounds, Delta senior Kory Mills fell behind 5-1 against Kolsen Welham from Holy Family. Mills battled back to make it 5-4 before Welham took control in the final period and won 12-4.
"I hope they can bounce back; I hope those guys can readjust their goals," Delta coach Clayton Curtis said Friday afternoon after the quarterfinal round.
"We had a few guys who really wanted to be state champs this year, and a couple of them are seniors," Curtis added. "They're going to have to readjust their goals and come back and say, hey, let's take third. We'll see if they can bounce back from it."
Mills had a great finish for Delta, winning his next two matches in consolation to take home the third-place medal. Mills finished his senior season with a record of 40-6.
Heavyweight Logan Church was the fourth medal winner for the Panthers, posting a 3-3 record in the tournament and finishing on the podium at sixth place.
Anderson went on to post a 3-2 record at state for Delta. Dillingham finished his state tournament with a 1-2 mark. Delta junior Livan Santander also recorded a 1-2 performance for the Panthers in the 195-pound class.
Logan Mayberry (113 pounds) and Sam Komives (182) returned from state with 0-2 records at the tournament.
The Panthers showed resilience and toughness all year but came up short of their goals at state.
"They wrestled well. Just made too many mistakes," Curtis said. "And you can't make mistakes at this level right now."