Flory wrestles way to first in Kansas
This time around, Baldwin High School wrestler Kyle Flory had just what it took to become a Class 4A championship -- motivation.
Flory, a junior wrestling at 171 pounds, dominated Columbus' Kurtis Baylor 12-3 in Saturday night's final in Wichita's Kansas Coliseum. Just a year ago, Flory also made the finals but settled for second.
He wasn't going to let that happen this time around.
"I wanted to win it this year since I made it to the finals last year," said Flory. "I think it motivated me. It was some extra motivation.
"Last year I was just so excited just to make it to the finals so I wasn't too upset when I lost," he said. "This year I wanted to win it instead of just make it."
Every wrestler that steps on the mat envisions a state championship. Flory is no different. But to see it unfold is something he'll never forget.
"Having the whole coliseum watching you wrested and to be the No. 1 guy in 4A in that weight -- it's a pretty big honor," he said. "It was nice being on top. It was great looking down on people instead of them looking down on you."
Flory has been wrestling for seven years and had never won a major championship. Saturday's title made it all worth while.
"I got second in Kids State once, too, but never first," said Flory. "Yes, I've been waiting for this. It makes everything worthwhile. Towards the end of the season I was getting sick of practice. But Saturday night I wanted to wrestle more. It's not so bad when you're winning."
Kit Harris, his coach, knows Flory earned the championship.
"Kyle's title was fun to be a part of," said Harris. "He is a hard worker, always looking for ways to improve himself. He is a hard-nosed competitor and is very consistent. You can always count on a solid performance from him.
"He combines a fierce competitive mentality, great athleticism and a willingness to listen, learn and improve," he said. "He trains hard and is a full-timer, always at practice."
Flory showed he'd learned something from the last time he wrestled Baylor. That was in the Basehor-Linwood Bobcat Classic and Baylor took a 13-9 win, one of only six losses on the year for Flory and they all came against state champions.
"For the final match, we basically talked about maintaining position because the Columbus kid does well in the high-risk situations," said Harris. "We didn't want a match like that. We wanted to keep it basic, simple, small and look for our scoring opportunities. Kyle did just that. It's always good to come back and beat somebody who beat us earlier. Kyle did that twice this year in the league and state finals."
Flory made it back-to-back championships for the Bulldogs. Last year Witt Hinton won the 275-pound class.
"It's always exciting to have a champion, but I don't want to get into talking too much about streaks," said Harris. "I don't want the kids to feel pressure of having to continue anything. They don't have to do anything except go and wrestle hard. We'll sure as heck try to get more and more champions, we always do, but we'll have to see."
For now, Flory is going to enjoy the title, which helped BHS finish 16th out of 44 teams at state.
"Everywhere I go, everyone seems to know about it," said Flory. "All my family and neighbors are congratulating me. Everyone is excited. It's hard to forget about. I'm just trying to soak it in. After I won, I said 'whoa, I just won it.'"
And, he's already eye-balling that next BHS title.
"I just hope I can win it next year," he said. "Hopefully I'll be able to do a repeat, but it will be tough."