Lang brings home another BHS wrestling medal
It wasn't quite what Luke Lang wanted to close out his stellar Baldwin High School wrestling career with, but third place at the Class 4A State Tournament is quite an accomplishment.
"Luke had a tremendous senior season and he has much to be proud of," said Kit Harris, BHS wrestling coach. "Sure he had his sights set on the title, that is no secret, but this is the toughest sport I know. There are no gimmes in this sport and for him to be as successful as he was at the state level for two years in a row is outstanding."
Lang was runner-up at 189 pounds last year and was aiming for the title this year. He opened the Wichita wrestling extravaganza Friday with a pin in 3:58 over Mulvane's Chris Wyant. He followed that with a 1:34 fall over Jerrod Steffans of Scott City, the No. 1 ranked Class 4A 189 pounder, in the second round.
That pitted Lang against Justin Bancroft of Chanute, who would go on to win the state title with a 24-1 record as a junior. Bancroft took a 7-5 win over Lang.
"The Chanute kid danced around and kept away from Luke's power and throws, which was smart of him," said Harris. "He frustrated Luke and made him play 'catch-up.' But we still had a chance to beat him late in the match, but if you give a great wrestler like Bancroft a lead, it is real easy to keep it. That kid has great skills and is tough to beat. He will be a two-time state champion before its is all over and a three-time state place-winner. He was only beaten once all year and that was to a 6A state runner-up. It is too bad Luke and Bancroft had to meet up in the semis."
Lang came back on Saturday to record two more pins to wrap up third place. He pinned Derek Smith of Concordia in :32 and Steffans again for third, this time in 1:23.
"I was most impressed with his ability to bounce back and finish things right after that heart-breaking semi-final loss," said Harris. "He came back the second day on fire and absolutely dominated his way to third place and ended his BHS wrestling career on a positive note. He is a winner, no doubt."
Lang is only the fourth BHS wrestler ever to be a two-time state place-winner and is only the 16th state place-winner in BHS history. He finished the season with a 30-3 record and tied his own school record with 23 falls. For his career, Lang was 83-15, was a three-time state qualifier and had an impressive 69 career falls.
Lang broke school records for takedowns with 83 (the old record was 66 by Duke Andrews) and team points with 194.5 (old record was 193 by Jay Harris in 1987). He has been selected for the Kansas vs. Missouri Metro Senior All-Star Dual on March 7.
BHS's other state-tournament entry, 160-pound Zach Haeffner, lost two matches. Haeffner was pinned by Holton's Aaron Meister in 1:07 and lost 7-0 to Wellington's Tim Swartz.
"Zach wrestled competitively and he had a tough draw," said Harris. "There were some guys in that bracket he could have beaten. Unfortunately, we couldn't get better pairings.
"But he got after it and wrestled hard. He hit a nice hip toss against the Wellington guy that might have ended the match, but it was out of bounds. After that, the guy wised up on us and wouldn't tie up with us," he said. "Zach ended his senior year great and was a valuable team leader for us."
The state tournament wrapped up the wrestling year for BHS. It was Harris' first as head wrestling coach and the team responded with the first winning dual record since 1989. Next year will bring even better results, he believes.
"This was a fun season and was very memorable," said Harris. "All the wrestlers worked hard and helped this year to be very exciting. I am very excited about the future of Bulldog wrestling and am very glad I am here to be a part of it. I want to thank everyone for their support throughout the year."