Baldwin High grapplers go against the best
On Saturday the Baldwin High School wrestling team loaded the bus for their first regular season wrestling meet. They entered Leavenworth with the hopes of each of them placing in the top two for a medal.
It seemed like a hard goal considering they were competing against all Class 6A and 5A schools, including defending 6A champion Emporia and Blue Valley North (fifth in 6A). Also Shawnee Mission North (sixth in 6A) were there. Baldwin was the only 4A school there. Each Bulldog wrestler hit the mats hard and showed everyone that small schools hold a lot of strong talent. Eight Bulldog wrestlers placed within the top five of their brackets.
"It was a tough tournament but that is exactly why we went. We had some of our best wrestlers who had a pretty rough day of getting beat on because of their tough brackets," said wrestling coach Kit Harris. "That is the kind of stuff that will make us better. We will wrestle anyone and give them a good scrap and see how things turn out. That is our philosophy and it is starting to pay off. I can see a ton of improvement already in these young men."
In "A pool" brackets, which consisted of mostly state placers and state qualifiers, senior Andy Breedlove (215 pounds) had a 3-2 record and was second place. Junior Witt Hinton (189 pounds) wrestled 2-3 and was fourth place. Junior Adam Halford (152 pounds) also went 2-3 and placed fourth as well.
In "B pool" brackets, junior Matt Gammon (135 pounds) went 2-2 and got third place. Sophomore Seth Halford (171 pounds) wrestled strong and went 2-3 and was fourth place. Sophomore Wayne Sage (112 pounds) also went 2-3 and finished third place.
Two freshmen put up a good fight in their first-ever high school wrestling competition. Kyle Flory (160 pounds) went 3-1 and placed way up high on the bracket with a second place finish. Derek Lang (140 pounds) was the team's highest finishing wrestler as he was the only BHS wrestler to win all his matches (4-0) and he took first place. Lang pinned all his opponents in the first period.
"I was really impressed with our freshmen (Lang and Flory). They seemed to have adapted to high school competition real well," said Harris. "It is nice to get seasoned youngsters in the lineup. They have been a great addition to our squad this year."
The next match for the Bulldogs is Thursday at Holton, with a double dual against Holton and Perry-Lecompton. The junior varsity squad will compete in the Wellsville JV tournament on Friday.
The varsity will again take on a top-level tournament next week as the team will compete in the highly acclaimed Raytown South (Mo.) Invitational Dec. 15-16. That tournament includes nationally ranked Perry (Okla.), defending Missouri state champion Platte County, Jefferson City Helias, which has won a Missouri state title 16 of the last 20 years, 1999 Missouri state champion Blue Springs, 2000 Missouri small-class champion Oak Grove, and numerous other teams highly ranked in the Midwest. Each Bulldog wrestler will get seven matches in the two-day event, and an eighth match if they place in the top six.
"These tough tournaments expose weaknesses and that is what we need. It is also a true test of character to go through a grueling physical day of hard physical wrestling. That is what we need to do to qualify for the state meet so that is what we will prepare for," Harris said.
The Class 4A Regional assignments have also been announced. Baldwin will face a much tougher regional this year as the Bulldogs will travel to Anderson County for the tournament in February. In Baldwin's regional are state-ranked Anderson County, Santa Fe Trail, Chapman, Eudora and Abilene, which make up five of the 4A's top 10 teams. Other teams included are Council Grove, DeSoto, KC-Ward, Prairie View, Louisburg, Osawatomie, Ottawa, Mill Valley and Spring Hill.