BHS’s Harris, wrestlers gain honors
Post-season accolades are flowing in for the Baldwin High School wrestlers and especially Bulldog coach Kit Harris.
Harris was named the Class 4A Coach of the Year by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association. The award usually goes to the winner of the state championship, but BHS's surge from 31st in the state last year to seventh this year didn't go unnoticed by Harris' peers in the coaching fraternity.
"I felt very honored," said Harris. "It is rare for a non-state trophy coach to win the award, but it does happen occasionally. I think it was mainly a result of us making a surprising to others perhaps, but not to me surge into the top 10 this year."
That honor came on the heels of Harris being named the Coach of the Year for the Lawrence Journal-World's All-Area team. He was joined by four of his wrestlers on that team 275-pound state champion Witt Hinton, Dan Hamilton (215), Kyle Flory (171) and Derek Lang (140) as the Bulldogs dominated the squad.
"We have had a lot of post-season honors for our team and they are all a reflection of the success the kids had, which is a direct result of the work they put in," said Harris. "We had a good time this year and I am proud of the kids and what they accomplished.
"For the rest of their lives, they can always be proud of the success we had and their role on our team and that means every team member," he said. "That is one of the many examples of the value of scholastic activities and take advantage of life's opportunities."
It was a record-breaking year for the Bulldogs, who qualified more wrestlers (seven) for state than ever and had more state placers (three) and state finalists (two) as well. Flory finished second and Lang sixth at state. The seventh-place finish was the best in school history, too. But, that wasn't all. BHS also had more dual victories (15) than any other team and there were numerous individual records set as well.
But, more than anything, it was about team.
"I am real proud to have been a part of this team," said Hamilton. "I feel we really accomplished a lot as a team and for many at an individual level. The coaches really helped us out this year and I was really glad to see coach Harris get honored like he did."
But, the Bulldogs aren't about to set on their laurels, either.
"I feel that we've had the most successful year ever and none of it would be possible without the help of coach Harris," said junior Nathan Deel. "It's great being a part of a team that has set so many school records and is receiving so many honors.
"I hope with some more off-season work next year's team can be even better," Deel said.