Halford leads local wrestlers at state-level tournament
For the third time in the last four years, Baldwin High School was the site of the state's top wrestling action as BHS hosted the 2003 Kansas State Freestyle/Greco-Roman Tournament Saturday and Sunday.
"It has been a lot of work, but I am trying to bring high level wrestling to the community and to this part of the state," said BHS coach Kit Harris, who ran the tournament along with the help of assistant coach Bobby Bovaird and many Baldwin wrestling parents, wrestlers, managers and fans. "We rely on a lot of help from many Baldwin wrestling folk. The help from parents, managers, and wrestlers is very much appreciated, and we even had a lot of help from community members who were not a part of the wrestling team but helped out anyway."
Three Baldwin wrestlers competed in the event, combining to win three gold and three bronze medals. BHS graduate Seth Halford, who is headed next year to wrestle for Northwestern College in Iowa, was named a "double champion" as he won both his greco-roman and freestyle brackets in the junior division 215-pound bracket.
Baldwin Junior High School eighth-grader-to-be Kevin Callahan was the other gold medal winner, winning first in freestyle at schoolboy 130 pounds. BHS junior-to-be Joe Bonner won two bronze medals in the cadet division at 125 pounds. Callahan placed third in Greco-roman, losing a match to a St. Francis state champion, but he rebounded to defeat that same opponent in freestyle for the title. Bonner's only two losses of the tournament were to a Class 3-1A state champion from Hoxie. Halford did not have any points scored on him the entire tournament.
Halford was a two-time state qualifier for BHS, and was one match from placing as a senior. He was named Academic All-State. Bonner qualified for state as a freshman and placed sixth at Kids State this past spring. Callahan has placed sixth, fifth, fourth and second at state.
By placing in the top three in the cadet or junior divisions, Halford and Bonner are now eligible to compete on Team Kansas for the national tournament series. The Cadet National Duals will be in Greeley, Colo.; the Junior National Duals are in Enid, Okla.; and the Cadet/Junior National Tournament is in Fargo, North Dakota.
Callahan will next be competing for Team Kansas in Topeka for the Southern Plains Regional Tournament, which includes competitors from Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. This tournament is a preliminary qualifier for Kids Nationals which will be held in Enid, Okla.
Callahan just recently returned from a week training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The camp is open only to All-American wrestlers and Callahan has won six All-American awards over the past four years, including a national title in folkstyle and Greco-roman. Callahan was able to train alongside Team USA's world team members, and roomed right across the hall from Cael Sanderson, who recently completed a four-year undefeated career at Iowa State University.
"It was awesome," said Callahan. "Not only because I met a lot of big names and cool people, but I learned a lot of great technique and how to train."
Callahan was coached by the U.S. Olympic coaches, including gold medalist Kevin Jackson, currently considered to be one of the best freestyle/greco-roman technicians in the world.
"It felt weird at first (to be training with the world team)," said Callahan. "But after a while it was no big thing. The coaches were great, they went through things fast though, so you had to keep up."
The Shawn Charles Championship Wrestling Camp will return to Baldwin and run from June 15-19 at Baker University. This year's clinicians include Olympic gold-medalist Kenny Monday, as well as NCAA All-Americans Jason Kelber and Derek Mountsier, as well as Charles, who was an Olympic alternate and four-time All-American at Arizona State and current assistant coach at Nebraska.