Optimism high for BHS wrestlers
Let's just say Baldwin High School wrestling coach Kit Harris has high expectations for this year and rightfully so.
"We have the potential to break some school records this year. We will just have to wait and see how things go," said Harris, in his third year at the Bulldog wrestling helm. "BHS has never finished in the top 10 at state and I think we can make a run at that if we continue to work hard and things go well for us.
"We also have never had more than six state qualifiers or two state placers in one year. I think those are records we can break also," he said.
The reason for the optimism? Well, there are many. Harris has seen great strides taken during his short tenure, both in talent and work ethic. But, it's a list of returning wrestlers that really opens the eyes. Included among them are several ranked individually in state-wide polls.
Those returners include: senior Witt Hinton at 275 pounds; sophomore Kyle Flory at 160 or 171; junior Wayne Sage at 112 or 119; junior Nate Deel at 119 or 125; senior Adam Halford at 160 or 171; senior Chris Hirschmann (152); and sophomore Derek Lang (145).
Other top returners are: senior Bryan Schneck (160); senior Tom Wilson 140 or 145; junior Charles Barnes (215); junior Sam Coffey (275); and junior Seth Halford (189).
But, there's more. Harris has a wealth of newcomers who will figure into the mix as well. Those newcomers include: senior Matt Gammon at 135 or 140; junior Dan Hamilton (215); sophomore Adam Canterberry (215); freshman Joe Bonner (103); and freshman Luke Halford at 140 or 152.
Harris has liked what he's seen so far from this group.
"Practices have been going great so far," he said. "The kids have been working real hard and with great attitudes. The returners have shown great leadership, helping the newcomers learn the drills and techniques. The rookies are holding their own in the practice room.
"I am absolutely amazed at how much so many of these kids have improved," said Harris. "As I have been watching our live wrestling sessions, I am very impressed at our improvement. I like what I see. I think we can have another real successful year."
What he also likes is the mixture of youth and expereince. He sees potential in wrestlers ranging from seniors to freshmen.
"What I like most about our team is that it is not dominated by one parcticular class," said Harris. "We have a handful of starters from each grade and that is a good thing."
The Bulldogs will start the season off tonight with the third-annual Purple/Silver Classic. The intrasquad scrimmage will start at 6:30 p.m. in the BHS gym. The top two wrestlers in each weight class will square off to help determine who will be in the starting lineup for the season's first real action Saturday at the Leavenworth Tournament.
"The Purple/Silver Classic is a good way to showcase our team and promote our season a little bit," said Harris. "It is also a good opportunity for the kids to compete in a live match in front of a crowd, to simulate a real competition as much as possible.
"I also like to use the evening to recognize some people in our community that support wrestling and some past BHS wrestling greats," he said.
Honorary coaches for the evening will be Frank Foye, owner of Santa Fe Market; Mike Spielman, BHS cross country and track coach; Roger Dressler, district transportation director; and Allen Poplin, BHS principal.
"Our honorary coaches this year are people who support wrestling, BHS, and in general do positive things for the youth in our community," said Harris. "I asked them to be honorary coaches as a way of thanking them for what they do and to welcome them as a part of our wrestling team."
There will also be Freestyle/Greco Roman demonstration by Baldwin youth wrestlers Kevin Callahan, Gabe Mason and Sean Potter. Also scheduled to perform will be the BHS pom pon squad. Admission for the evening is $1.