Hinton tops BHS wrestlers
Led by senior Witt Hinton's second-place finish, the Baldwin High School wrestling team showed it could compete with the nation's best at the prestigious Raytown (Mo.) South Christmas Invitational Tournament over the weekend.
Hinton, wrestling in the 275-pound division, qualified for the finals and finished with a 7-1 record. Three other Bulldogs also placed, with junior Dan Hamilton taking sixth at 215 and seventh-place finishes for 171-pounder Kyle Flory and 140-pounder Derek Lang.
Those finishes in the tournament that is ranked among the nation's best by "Wrestling USA" magazine had coach Kit Harris pleased, especially after last year's inaugural foray into the land of the nationally ranked teams and wrestlers.
"Our four placers is an improvement from last year's two," said Harris. "We also won a lot more matches this year. We took five freshmen who had quite an eye-opener to what real wrestling is all about. They held their own and I was proud of them. They learned a lot about high-level wrestling."
But no one excelled like Hinton did. He defeated Platte County's Charles Gruzmacher 7-4 to earn his way into the finals. In the finals, Hinton fell to Missouri State Champion and All-American Jarod Bonnell from nationally ranked Farmington, Mo.
"Witt is looking more and more sharp as the season progresses," said Harris. "He did some nice things, overcoming some tough situations in a couple of matches when his back was against the wall and he had to either come from behind or hold on to a lead.
"In the finals, he saw one of the best heavyweight wrestlers I have seen," he said. "That guy was never once out of position, not for one second. He was very, very solid and pretty much dominated the match, never giving up openings, which is what great wrestlers do. But, Witt was scrappy and worked hard against him. He learned a lot from the match."
Harris was also pleased by his other placers, Flory, Lang and Hamilton.
"Kyle had an outstanding tournament. The win against Sears (top ranked Will Sears of Oak Grove, Mo.) was huge," he said. "Kyle's tilt series is dangerous and his leg attacks were timed well. He has some bottom work to do. That is perhaps the only area he struggled against his high-level competition.
"Derek had a great week everything from his wrestling to the discipline he showed dropping a weight class," Harris said. "His sweeps and tilts were good and he was moving a lot on bottom, keeping his opponents from going to work on their turn techniques.
"Dan was a pleasant surprise," he said. "It is uncommon to place in this tournament your first time here. He doesn't get pushed around by anybody. He is very physical and for the most part stays in good position. The only guys giving him trouble right now are the very advanced wrestlers with great skills. He is still developing his techniques and, in the meantime, he is winning on guts and competitiveness."