Bulldog wrestlers take third in bigger, better BIT
A jam-packed parking lot at Baldwin High/Junior High School Saturday showed graphically that the second-annual Baldwin Invitational Tournament has caught the fancy of area wrestlers and their fans.
The BIT had the same amount of teams as the inaugural event, but it was a better field and there were also "unattached" wrestlers that swelled the brackets. When all the arm, leg and torso flailing was over that evening, state-ranked Abilene had won the team title and the Baldwin Bulldogs were in third.
All in all, it was a bigger and better BIT, BHS coach Kit Harris said.
"There were a lot more wrestlers," said Harris. "The teams brought a lot more wrestlers this year and we let them wrestle unattached, too. All of them had more wrestlers. Next year will be even bigger with Santa Fe Trail coming.
"It was a much tougher tournament, too," he said. "Lansing was tough and Abilene has been on of the toughest teams in the state for years."
Abilene -- ranked No. 5 in Class 4A -- won the team title with 354 points, followed by Lansing with 300.5 and BHS with 286.5. Marysville was fourth with 261.5 points, followed by Tonganoxie (174), Royal Valley (173.5), Mill Valley (170), Kansas City Sumner (160.5), Shawnee Heights junior varsity (126) and Council Grove (76.5).
BHS 171-pounder Kyle Flory was the lone Bulldog champion. Flory moved up the all-time BHS win list into sixth place with win No. 94. He is within easy striking distance of the next four on the list. Finishing second were Derek Lang at 160 and Sam Coffey at 275. Joe Bonner (112), Sam Hinton (130) and Charles Barnes (unattached at 275) were all third. Finishing fourth were Steve Hamilton (135) and Luke Halford (189).
Winning special awards were Abilene 119-pounder Jake Kreigbaum as Outstanding Wrestler as voted on by coaches; Brian Zey of Abilene won the Gorrarian Award for most falls (five in five matches); and Marysville won the Team Sportsmanship Award as voted on by officials.
"Everybody had a great day of wrestling. We probably only had about two or three losses that we perhaps should have won, but our positives far outweigh our negatives," said Harris. "Abilene is a great team and I knew it would take a lot to beat them. And Lansing had a great tournament. A couple of matches that could have gone either way would have made a difference in second and third place.
"We also had a key wrestler, Dan Hamilton, out with an injury, but Luke Halford has wrestled up a weight and filled in real well for him," he said. "There were a lot of individual highlights, including Flory's win over the kid who beat him last year in the finals here. Also Sam Coffey making the finals and only losing by one. And our underclassmen did real well. About 170 of our points were scored by our freshmen and sophomores."
Other BHS finishes were: Josh Kohn (119), Andreas Brandenberger (140), Daniel Gammon (145) and Seth Halford (215) were all fifth; Matt James (119) and Josiah Mason (152) were sixth; and Mark Jehle (103), Wayne Sage (125) and Brandon Cone (189) were seventh.
Title winners were: Justin Broadbent, Mill Valley (103); Josh Peterson, Abilene (112); Kreigbaum, Abilene (119); Luke Geske, Abilene (125); Zey, Abilene (130); Ross Starcher, Tonganoxie (135); Mike Bussman, Marysville (140); Adam Eckert, Abilene (145); Ross Taplin, Abilene (152); Troy Medill, Lansing (160); Flory, Baldwin (171); Eric Pingleton, Mill Valley (189); Ryan Friedrichs, Marysville (215); and William Del Toro, Royal Valley (275).
Despite the increase in wrestlers, the BIT ran smoothly. That's because of all the volunteer help that Harris had, he said.
"To host a wrestling tournament takes a lot of work and we had plenty of help," said Harris. "We can't host such a great event without all the contributions of the parents, the kids and district staff that helped. We are very appreciative of that."
Next up for the Bulldogs is a dual at Osawatomie Thursday, which will also include Prairie View. BHS is 13-4 overall in duals and 5-0 in Frontier League duals. On Feb. 13, BHS will be at Eudora's "Pack the House" dual to face the Cardinals and Paola. The league title could be on the line there if all the teams keep winning. Last year, Paola defeated BHS 39-27 in an exciting dual to win as the Panthers won their third straight league crown.