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Derby crowned kings of Class 6A wrestling

After an offseason of trials, including the passing of assistant coach Jeremy Molloy, the Derby wrestling roster was united through tragedy and motivated to honor the fallen coach. With a senior-heavy group, the Panthers entered the season as the top-ranked team in Class 6A. Injuries throughout the season left some uncertainty on the team's ability to make a run at the postseason, but Derby silenced the doubters with a dominant performance at the state—hoisting the seventh state title in its program history.

“It is such a special moment,” head coach Bill Ross said. “With everything with Jeremy, and then we had to hold some guys out the whole year, but it felt like something magical was in the air. We really came together as a family, and the kids battled the adversity to achieve their goal.” 

Derby sat amid the top three for the entire tournament, with wrestlers in 13 of the 14 weight classes. It was a constant battle between the Panthers and Garden City for the top spot. After the first day of action, the Panthers sat just four points behind the Buffalos, with 11 wrestlers still active in the tournament. Derby had four seniors, Braden Tatum, Tate Rusher, Knowlyn Egan and Troy Allen in a finals match.

Egan claimed the individual state title with a suspenseful 2-1 win over Alec Samuelson of Olathe North. Egan recorded a reversal late in the match and hung on to win the title at 157. 

“When I got the reversal, it kind of sunk in a little bit,” Egan said. “I knew I had some room to work with. It is hard to describe the feeling of being a state champ.”  

Rusher, Tatum and Allen all took second at the tournament but solidified crucial points for the Panthers on day one.  

After missing most of the season with a torn labrum, Allen fought his way through the bracket. Allen claimed a spot in the final with an 8-1 win by decision over Noah Conover of Olathe Northwest. Eric Streeter of Lawrence Free State defeated Allen in the finals on a 6-1 decision. 

Tatum stood on the podium visibly disappointed after taking a third runner-up medal in his high school career with a loss by major decision against Dillon Cooper of Mill Valley. Tatum played a crucial role in getting the Panthers into a position for a state title despite a disappointing finish.

Rusher had the more emotional finishes of the day with a 5-3 loss by a decision on a near fall call within the final seconds of his finals match against Collin McAlister of Mill Valley. The Chadron State commit finished his Derby career as a key part of the state run. 

The Panthers took care of business on the backside of the tournament to seal up the team title heading into the finals.

“We preach to our kids that we wrestle the front side of the bracket for yourself because everyone wants to be an individual something, but you wrestle that backside of the bracket for your team,” Ross said. “That is what they did, they knew they were doing it for the team, and that is what they did.” 

Jayden Grijalva (106) and Miles Wash (215) took third at their respective weight classes. Wash had some of the biggest matches of the day with a win over Brayden Hill of Garden City to clinch third place. 

Peyton Neptune took fourth at 175 pounds as a junior with key wins to reach the third-place march. Layne Sweat continued a hot stretch after taking second at the regional tournament with a fifth-place finish at 138 pounds. 

Mason Hopper bounced back after dropping his first match of the tournament with a fifth-place at 190 pounds finish, including a win by sudden victory over Roman Loya of Garden City in the second round of the consolation matches. As a freshman Max Robinson (285) had a fantastic state tournament with a sixth-place finish and gave the Panthers 12 points.

Diego Gauna gave the Panthers a solid effort in the consolation rounds and scored the team seven points at 132. Tanner Heincker (113) and Lane Bernstorf (165) can hold the honor of state qualifier but had early exits on the opening day of the tournament in tough brackets.   

It was a senior class that was rooted in local wrestling as all four seniors to reach the finals were involved in the Derby wrestling club. The team grew up together and had been dreaming of this moment for a long time.

“I grew up wrestling with all these guys when I was little, and we always came to the state tournament when we were little, just waiting our turn,” Egan said. “To end our high school careers on top feels pretty good.”  


1. Derby          193.5

2. Garden City 168.5

3. Mill Valley   145.5

4. Manhattan  142.5

5. Olathe North      127

6. Washburn Rural   119

7. Junction City      108

8. Lawrence Free State    94

9. Gardner Edgerton     87.5

10. Dodge City     81.5

11. Olathe East     79

12. Olathe Northwest     67

13. Lawrence     39

14. Liberal     38

15. Olathe West     37

15. SM Northwest     37

17. Blue Valley     33

17. BV West     33

19. SM East     32

20. Wichita North     21

21. Wichita South     19

22. Olathe South     12

22. Wichita West     12

24. SM West     11

25. SM South   10

26. SM North     7

27. BV Northwest    5

28. BV North     3

28. JC Harmon   3

28. Topeka   3

28. Wichita Northwest   3

32. Wichita East   2

33. Wichita Southeast 1

34. Campus  0

35. Wichita Heights 0

Life saving support
Derby FD adapts to growing medical calls

As is in the title, Derby Fire and Rescue keeps busy with its fair share of fire calls. But a majority of the department’s work over the past few years has fallen more into the category of medical response – with roughly 60% of the annual calls for the department classified as EMS/rescue. 

With the increasing number of emergency medical services and rescue calls, Derby FD is evolving and continually analyzing best practices for the community it serves – both now and in the future.

Current capabilities

Along with fire departments being required to work under a medical license, Sedgwick County Emergency Medical Services System Medical Director Kevin Brinker in Derby’s case, all Derby firefighters must also be credentialed emergency medical technicians (EMTs) through that director – as well as the state.

EMT certification typically translates to 12 college credit hours (a full semester), which Derby Fire Chief John Turner noted is the baseline.

On top of that, Derby FD also has one advanced EMT and four paramedics currently on staff. To become a paramedic requires a two-year degree that concentrates on emergency medical intensive care.

“They’re highly trained and they have a lot more leeway with drugs and [assisting] airways and those kinds of things,” Turner said.

While the direction on medical training comes from the county, it’s something Turner noted his department has become more focused on, especially with the growing number of medical calls.

Currently, the National Fire Protection Association’s benchmark for response time on EMS calls is five minutes. In 2021, Derby Fire and Rescue recorded an average response time of five minutes and 44 seconds on such calls, which Turner noted is “workable.”

In assessing whether more EMS services through the county are needed, Turner noted the department has first looked to bring on more staff with advanced training to help process more of the medical calls.

“Something we’ve kind of evolved into this last hiring process is getting some of those higher level paramedics on fire, so they can start some of those procedures before the ambulance arrives,” Turner said.

“That’s a skillset that chief has valued,” said City Manager Kiel Mangus. “We have one on each shift that has the ability to push drugs and do things that some of our other base firefighters/EMT staff couldn’t do.”

During the 2022 department hiring, two of the three additional firefighters brought onto staff were trained paramedics.

Additionally, Deputy City Manager Dan Bronson noted that of the medical calls Derby FD responses to, 80 to 85% are calls that can be run by an EMT with basic life support (BLS) training. Paramedics with advanced life support (ALS) training can usually cover the rest, though Turner noted the cutoff is typically any call requiring a narcotic response (i.e., seizures, pain management, etc.)

“Maybe someday when we see call volume increase and more of those types of calls, we may consider carrying narcotics on our trucks,” Turner said.



Between the Lifepak unit and other medical gear available, Derby FD is equipped to handle at least 80-85% of the medical calls it receives at any given time.

What Derby does have in terms of equipment and medications also comes down from the medical director, with firefighter/paramedic Nate Keller noting that includes what dosages to use on calls and what tools to keep in the ALS bags on vehicles.

Turner also noted the county has been particularly helpful in providing off-ambulance items for his staff to use. That includes the Lifepak unit on Engine 81 that allows for cardiac tests to be run in the field.

Looking ahead

For ambulances, national standards on response times are a little different – and a little longer, at eight minutes. Between Derby Fire and Sedgwick County EMS, city leadership doesn’t see response time as an issue currently. As the city continues growing though, the questions remains what the tipping point is for additional emergency medical services.

“The reality is we are the largest city outside of Wichita. With us having 26,000 people, do we merit another another one? I don’t know,” Mangus said. “We don’t know what that threshold is, but we know that at some point … [the question is] do we have enough calls for another EMS station or more staffing.”

Over the past few years, EMS support from the county was somewhat tumultuous due to staff shortages, which sparked conversations about enhancing services in Derby. Average response times on both regular and emergency calls were a minute over the national standard, but that has dropped back to the benchmark rate within the past year.

With Wichita hospitals working out an arrangement for private contractors to handle building-to-building transports, that has also freed Sedgwick County EMS to respond to its partner cities and maintain a more regular presence at its stations. Currently, Derby has one EMS station through the county located at Fire Station 82.

“I go by [Fire Station] 82 and I see that ambulance unit there a lot more than what it used to be. I do think that helps,” Mangus said. “I think if Sedgwick County continues to improve its staffing levels, that will help for them to be available.”

Minor calls have also started being transported to Rock Regional Hospital as well, which Turner noted also helps with ambulance availability.

Looking forward, Mangus and Turner both pointed out that Derby’s compact nature has not made initial response much of an issue at this point in time. With roughly 2,7000 calls over the past year, Turner noted there’s maybe once a day when calls come in together – which may delay responses. Calls increasing much over that (into the 3,000 range) may force the city’s hand in either adding more staff or adding another EMS – or fire – station.

Either way, the city has looked to the northeast as a potential location for a new station (fire or EMS), given Derby’s current expansion trends. Whatever steps the city takes in the future, Mangus and Turner said the approach will start internally and be adjusted as needed.

“We’re going to continue to prioritize paramedics in our hiring process. We’re also looking at compensating them, too,” Turner said.

“The more they [firefighters] can learn in their skillset and their training, the more we benefit from it in the fire department and then the community,” Mangus said. “There’s a lot of different ways to skin a cat. We’re just trying to make sure we serve the community as best we can when it comes to the emergency services, whether that is fire or EMS. We know we’re always going to be the first one there and we want to be able to do the best we can when we get there.”

Kitchen instructor Carmona got early start from family business

When USD 260 employee Teresa Carmona began teaching classes at The Kitchen in Hubbard Arts Center, she brought with her a foundation of hands-on experience, as well as culinary credentials and a love of cooking. 

“I started cooking with my grandfather when I was a teenager, about 12 or 13, at his restaurant Bill’s El Mexico Café on South Seneca in Wichita,” Carmona said, “and after graduation I went into the Culinary program at Wichita Area Vo-Tech.”

In the ensuing years, she honed her culinary skills at home while raising her four children, working as a school bus driver in Wichita, and, since 2021, in Derby as a bus driver and in El Paso Elementary’s lunch kitchen.

Carmona has been teaching classes at The Kitchen since last summer.

“I worked in the [USD 260] Central Kitchen last summer and one of the chefs who worked there thought I would be a good fit for The Kitchen,” she recalled. “They were doing interviews, so I asked for an interview and was hired.”

Carmona is enthusiastic about all aspects of The Kitchen experience.

The majority of the classes she has been teaching are for ages 3 to 6, where the kids “create art with food” with themes like “PJ’s and Pancakes” and “Out of This World.”

“It looks good, it’s creative, it’s what they want to make,” she said. “You can see who the top creators are going to be when they get to decorating the pancakes or putting bananas on it in a different way. They make it, they eat it.”

As the classes get older – teenagers and adults – they are more complex. 

“I teach a lot of the basics – measurements, why things go with what, what you can substitute for what, what could be healthier for you or what couldn’t, things to watch out for, and knife skills, for example.

“The adult class, I have so much fun with them,” she enthused. “We joke around and laugh. There are adults who are actually really learning and enjoying what they are creating while learning something new.” 

Carmona’s hospitable nature is apparent when she talks about the classes.

“I like seeing the creativity and the way people smile and really get into it. It’s okay if they make mistakes or forget something – they’re having fun while they do it.”

“You can never have something more intimate without being intimate than dealing with a recipe and food,” Carmona said. “It’s something you have created together, and all of a sudden it’s yours and no one can take that away from you.”

Carmona is looking forward to building her recipe repertoire and working with Culinary Arts Coordinator Samia Rashwan on future classes at The Kitchen. 

“Samia is very creative, very smart, very intuitive with all the cooks,” she said. 

Carmona said she likes to challenge herself by trying a recipe the way it’s written first, “and then I’ll put my own twist on it [with] different flavors and spices.”

“I really love herbs and spices. I’ve gone more with fresh ingredients and stayed away from a lot of the canned goods and boxed products – it’s much healthier.”

Of her children – two sons and two daughters – “the girls never were interested in getting into the kitchen growing up, but the boys were,” Carmona said. Today, her sons and their wives, “who are also creative in the kitchen,” are the cooks in the family, while Carmona is getting the next generation ready. 

“Last weekend, I had my three grandsons over and we created our own chicken egg rolls, stir fried rice, and made brownies,” she said with a hint of pride.

Historic flags put up on display at DPL

While cleaning out their storage room recently, staff members at the Derby Public Library stumbled upon a bit of history in the form of a trio of flags – all with significant ties to the library. 

Upon learning of the possession of the flags, Director Eric Gustafson suggested creating a display over the adult non-fiction section, providing a more direct link to some of Derby’s history. A special flag dedication ceremony to unveil the relics was held at the library on Feb. 21.

There were two American flags and one Derby Centennial flag among the collection discovered. The first American flag (on the far left of the display upon entering the library) was presented to the library by VFW Post 7253 on May 2, 1969 during its Loyalty Day program – a day set aside "for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom (introduced as an anti-Communism effort).”

Located on the right of the display, the second American Flag was presented to the library as part of the 1974 July 4 activities when the DPL held a dedication for its new flag pole (given by the Derby Jaycees). The flag, like the other, had flown over the U.S. Capitol Building and was gifted to the library by Senator Bob Dole.

Finally, the Derby flag – in the middle of the display – was created as part of the city’s centennial anniversary in 1969 and was displayed during a dedication ceremony for the new library building (located at 621 N. Derby at the time).


The Derby Centennial Flag was introduced in 1969 and on display during a dedication ceremony for the new Derby library building held that year.

A sizable crowd showed up for the dedication, in which Gustafson shared some of the context behind the flags’ meaning for the library. Kristy Norman, Public Support Services Coordinator, also noted the flags are intended to help the patrons get a sense of how long the library (started in April 1958) has been a part of the Derby community.

The flags will now be on display permanently at the library and Norman is hopeful it will be another spark to help guests think on and share about the city’s history.

“I would love to see the patrons sharing their part in Derby's history after seeing the flags,” Norman said. "Learning about everyone's part helps see how far the community has come since 1869, with a few settlers homesteading the land.”

“It’s really a little cool piece of history to have on display in the space up there,” Gustafson said of the flags. “It really fits in with how Derby feels about the military, about the country and how important it is to the community.”

Yuengling makes its debut in Derby

After it was teased at the end of 2022, Yuengling beer has officially arrived in Kansas.

For most of its history, the products from the oldest operating brewery in America – headquartered in Pennsylvania – have been sold exclusively east of the Mississippi. In 2021, the westward expansion began in Texas.

Now, given the previous strong reception further south, Yuengling is bringing its flagship beers to Kansas in 2023 as part of a three-state rollout (being offered in Oklahoma and Missouri now as well).

While it has been for sale in bars for most of the month of February, K&S Liquor co-owner Kelly Reed said it will hit its store shelves this March. K&S plans to offer all the Yuengling products that will be introduced in Kansas, including the company’s lager, pilsner and Flight (its light beer). It’s a release customers and ownership alike are excited about.

“The main thing for us is it is a very popular beer in the east; it has been for years. It’s the oldest brewery in America,” Reed said. “We are looking forward to it because it’s going to add a beer that’s very popular to our repertoire that we’ve never been able to offer.”

“We know how long our loyal Kansas fans have been waiting for our products to hit the local market. We’re thrilled to bring our family recipes and iconic portfolio of beers to Yuengling fans across Kansas,” said Debbie Yuengling, sixth generation family member and company manager. “Fans can rest assured that Yuengling beers across the country will be brewed to Yuengling perfection, in line with the brand’s high-quality standards.”

Bars have had Yuengling on tap for a short period ahead of the release in stores. Even so, Little Busters manager Cady Humphrey noted that – given the teaser announcement – the excitement began when the calendar turned at the start of the year.

“They thought it was going to come Jan. 1, so as soon as the new year hit the first customers walking in the door on New Year’s Day were like, ‘where’s Yuengling,’” Humphrey said. “The hype has been great.”

Little Busters, like most bars, is a little more limited with tap space (compared to stores), but Humphrey said the Derby establishment will also be looking to offer Flight. She said the bar might introduce cans of Yuengling’s light beer in conjunction with the upcoming March Madness tournament.

More products are expected to slowly roll out in March. That will give plenty of fans, whether old or new, a chance to try Yuengling for themselves.

“I think Yuengling as a brand has been a fan favorite of literally millions and millions of people back east [and] they finally decided to expand east of the Mississippi,” Reed said. “It’s giving fans that have tried this beer when they were back east, or people that live out here who were from the east, a chance to reconnect. Or, for new people, to connect with a brand that is very popular, and a very good beer.”

“The opportunity to engage and serve a new set of fans from some of the most iconic beer-drinking states is an opportunity we take very seriously,” said Pat Pikunas, general manager of The Yuengling Company. “We are confident about meeting high expectations and delivering the very best, great tasting Yuengling beers that have built our quality reputation over 194 years.”

Fundraiser helps with therapy dog training for Park Hill student

With a 1,000-watt smile, a head full of curls and a bright pink wheelchair, Corbynn Phillips, 5, can light up a room. Corbynn is wheelchair bound with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, but thanks to the watchful eye of her therapy dog, Remington (Remi for short), she can attend school at Park Hill Elementary.

Remi, a black labrador, assists and watches out for Corbynn. She provides deep pressure therapy (kind of like a weighted blanket) for Corbynn. She will lay on Corbynn’s legs while she is having muscle spasms to help with pain. Remi gets emergency medicine for Corbynn during a seizure and opens the front door for EMS when needed.

Currently, Remi is partway through her seizure alert training. Seizure alert training entails Remi being able to detect the change in Corbynn’s pheromones in her body and smell the seizure prior to it starting. She will hug “jump” gently on an adult and go to every adult in the room until someone checks on Corbynn.

Students at Park Hill Elementary raised $902.75 for Remi’s training, to help Corbynn, by having a Hat Day Feb. 24 where students who donated $1 or more could wear a hat during school for the day.

Corbynn, who does not talk and is legally blind, relies on Remi for crowd control to keep people from coming up from behind without Corbynn realizing. She can also pick up items from the floor and give them back to Corbynn.

Remi is trained to be “annoying” so she isn’t ignored. She has completed five weeks of boarded training and is going back for another three weeks at the beginning of May to finish training and do her public access test.

For those outside the school who would like to donate and help pay for Remi’s training, visit

To watch Remi’s progress, you can follow her on Instagram at adventures_of_Remington_sd or on TikTok  at adventuresofremingtonsd.