Bulldog wrestlers win thriller
As wrestling duals go, it just doesn't get better than the show the Baldwin High School Bulldogs put on Thursday for the first-ever "Pack the House" night.
After crushing Prairie View 65-13 in the opening dual, the Bulldogs went to the final match against Osawatomie before grabbing an exciting 41-37 win. It had the sizable crowd on hand on the edge of their seats and screaming wildly as 275-pounder Andy Breedlove sealed the BHS victory with a pin over Josh Bartlett.
It rocked the packed house.
"Now that was a wrestling dual," said coach Kit Harris. "That was a lot of fun for the fans and that is what I wanted to let them see a good show of some exciting wrestling."
It was a see-saw battle all the way, too. A 12-0 lead by BHS evaporated and it was tied 24-24 after BHS's Adam Halford won by pin in the 145-pound match. Chris Hirschmann gave the Bulldogs a 30-24 lead with another pin at 152 pounds. Again the advantage evaporated in the next two matches and Osawatomie was up 33-30.
Baldwin High senior Luke Lang put a stop to that with a 24-7 technical fall at 189 pounds. That put the Bulldogs up 35-33 with two matches left. Then it was decision time for Harris. He waited to choose his wrestlers for the final two matches until Osawatomie sent its choice at 215 pounds. With both Witt Hinton and Breedlove available, Harris chose Hinton to go first and Breedlove second. It was the right choice and ultimately gave BHS the win.
Hinton battled hard against Travis Hayden before losing 12-3. But, he avoided being pinned on a couple of occasions which proved to be big.
Then Breedlove took over and pinned Josh Bartlett at the 2:53 mark, much to the thundering approval of the fans on hand.
"I was most pleased at how our team, especially our upper weights, performed as well as they did with all the hype and excitement," said Harris. "Winners wrestle big in big situations and I am glad we were able to do that. I also think our crowd helped us get that win. I think our kids fed off the energy in the gym and used it to help us."
Breedlove also gained specific kudos from his coach.
"I most like the fact that Andy stepped onto the mat in such a pressure situation and performed in the business-like manner that he did," said Harris. "I never sensed a touch of nervousness or fear in him and that is a nice sign."
Picking up non-forfeit wins for the Bulldogs in the Prairie View dual were: Matt Westgate, 112 pounds, 16-1; Halford (145), pin; Lang (189), pin; Breedlove (215), pin; and Hinton (275), pin.
The two victories also assured the Bulldogs their first winning dual record since 1989. BHS now stands at 11-7 in dual competition.
"That's a big step for the program," said Harris. "We're heading in the right direction. We've got some more goals to accomplish with getting kids qualified for state. We're not done yet."
BHS will be in action Thursday at Eudora in another double-dual. Also there will be Paola, which will be battling Eudora for the league dual title. Both teams are unbeaten. BHS is 5-2 in league.
Saturday the Bulldogs head to the league tournament at Louisburg. Next week is regionals at Kansas City Piper. The top four wrestlers in each weight division at regionals advance to the state tournament in Wichita Feb. 25-26.