BHS wrestlers also win big
The Baldwin High School wrestling team kicked off its season Saturday with the always tough Leavenworth Challenger. The tournament, in its 13th year, is among the most challenging in the state, according to coaches.
Last season the Bulldogs left the tournament with only three individual wins and only three placers. The tables turned this year however, as the Bulldogs came away with 39 wins, four champions, six third-place finishers and three fifth-place finishers.
The event features some of the top Class 6A teams in the state, including Manhattan, Emporia, Shawnee Mission North, Blue Valley North, Leavenworth, Topeka, Bonner Springs, Excelsior Springs (Mo.), Grandview (Mo.), Olathe East and Olathe South. No team score was kept because of the "A" and "B" pool format of the tournament.
"Last year we were just trying to hold our own here. But this year we were winning all kinds of matches," said third-year coach Kit Harris. "We were 21-8 in the first two rounds."
The team's weekly "Outstanding Wrestler" award went to sophomore Kyle Flory. Flory went 5-0 to capture the 171-pound title.
"It was a good way to start the season and I thought Baldwin was represented well," said Flory. "I thought the young wrestlers did good for what they knew."
Another "A" pool champion was senior heavyweight Witt Hinton. Hinton also went 5-0 with three falls for the gold medal.
"Witt and all our other returners looked good, not great, but very good," Harris said. "I liked how hard they wrestled but we weren't hitting all our techniques real sharp, but that is to be expected this early in the year. They were at least scrapping hard and overcoming some of our mistakes. These kids always do that and that is real important in this sport if you want to survive."
Finishing with gold medals in the "B" pool were seniors Matt Gammon at 140 and Chris Hirschmann at 152. Both were undefeated.
Third place finishers in the "A" pool were junior Nathan Deel at 125, sophomore Derek Lang at 145, senior Adam Halford at 160 and junior Sam Coffey at 275. In the "B" pool freshman and first-year wrestler Josh Kohn was third at 112 and another freshman, Steve Hamilton at 135, also took third place.
"Our freshmen our wrestling tough. They are getting some valuable experience and competing hard," Harris said. "These experiences will pay off for them over the year."
The team also had three fifth-place finishers in the "A" pool in juniors Wayne Sage at 119, Seth Halford at 189 and Charles Barnes at 215. Freshman Travis Barnes placed sixth while wrestling in the 130-pound division of the "B" pool.
Harris believes in taking his team to tough competitions.
"It's my philosophy that you have to compete against the best to be the best. Sometimes it means we take our lumps, but it pays off in the long run," said Harris.
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Thursday with the third-annual "Pack the House" dual in the BHS gym. Baldwin will take on Holton and Perry-Lecompton. Action begins at 5:30 p.m. Last year, Baldwin defeated Perry-Lecompton, but lost to Holton by a 41-33 score.