Lang leads the way for BHS wrestlers
The Raytown (Mo.) South Christmas Inviational is rated as one of the toughest wrestling tournaments in the nation, according to Wrestling USA magazine. Apparently, Baldwin High School senior Derek Lang didn't read the article.
Lang, wrestling in the 160-pound weight class, became the first Bulldog wrestler ever to win first place at the two-day tournament Friday and Saturday. His 5-1 victory in the finals over Harry Keyser of Norristown, Penn., sealed the championship and capped off a perfect 8-0 day against some of the best wrestlers in the Midwest.
"Derek had a great tournament. He has had a great December," coach Kit Harris said. "He's 18-1 through a very tough stretch in our schedule."
The Bulldogs only had one finalist in team history going into the weekend. Witt Hinton took second place at the invitational in 2002, a year where he later went on to a state title.
BHS doubled that feat this year with not only Lang making the finals, but also senior Kyle Flory. Flory, at 171-pounds, went 5-1 to finish second. He lost in the finals on a 10-3 decision to Drake Hovis of Whitfield, Mo. Hovis is a two time state champion and an All-American.
The loss wasn't a complete damper on Flory's day. In the semifinals he took out Oak Park's D.L Gleason, who is ranked No. 1 in Missouri, in an exciting 8-7 match.
"That was a very good win for Kyle," Harris said. "He is starting to look more fluent with his techniques and reactions. And he is always very competitive."
The Bulldogs weren't quite finished pulling in awards. Senior Adam Canterbury got in on the action and brought home a sixth-place medal for his efforts in the 275-pound weight class. Canterbury went 5-3 including four hard fought pins.
The overall success of the squad didn't go unnoticed.
"This was our best overall team performance at this tournament. We won more overall matches than we have before, going 28-42 as a team," Harris said. "We usually don't win that many matches here."
BHS finished 12th out of 18 teams for the tournament with 170 points. The Bulldogs were the only Kansas team participating in what was mainly a battle of Missouri schools.
Oak Park won the tournament with 436. Other team finishes were: Farmington, Norristown (Penn.), Liberty, Kearney, Cedar Rapids Kennedy (Iowa), St. Charles West, Lawson, Timberland, Raytown South, Fort Osage, Baldwin, Oak Grove, St. Louis
Francis Howell, Odessa, Waynesville, Whitfield and Excelsior Springs.
The competition will start to get a little easier for BHS as the Bulldogs head into the Frontier League duals where they are the defending champion. They will next be in action at Wellsville for a dual with the Eagles on Jan. 8.