BIT a tough one; Bulldogs finish fifth
Special to the Signal
The Baldwin High School wrestling team looked weary as the Bulldogs laid on the mats they had set up on the west end of the Baldwin Junior High School gym.
"We're tired," said junior Joe Bonner. "We've been here since seven this morning."
Although the third-annual Baldwin Invitational Tournament might have lasted for more than 12 hours on Saturday, most of the BHS wrestlers would agree it was the competition that had them worn down.
Just ask BHS head coach Kit Harris.
"This tournament has become tougher and tougher each year," he said. "This year was the toughest with the defending state champs and No. 1 ranked team in 4A (Abilene) and the No. 7 team in 4A (Santa Fe Trail)."
The competition alone was enough to challenge the Bulldogs. It didn't help that they had three varsity wrestlers out with injuries.
"We did well considering we were missing three key starters," Harris said. "With them in the lineup we would have been point for point for third and fourth place, which is about where I would have predicted us to be."
BHS finished with 202 points, which was good enough for fifth place out of 11 teams. In front of BHS was Santa Fe Trail, taking the tournament title with 296 points, Abilene (285), Royal Valley (257) and Lansing (247). The Bulldogs were followed in the scoring by Mill Valley (179.5), DeSoto (171.5), Marysville (169), Tonganoxie (137), Council Grove (111) and Holton (31).
Not surprisingly, BHS was again led by its two senior standouts, Derek Lang and Kyle Flory. Both members of the duo came away with first-place medals at day's end.
Flory, the defending state champion at 171 pounds, improved his record to 29-3 with a decisive victory over Russ Fitzgerald of Marysville by a count of 9-5.
"It was kind of nerve wracking in front of the hometown crowd," he said.
Although Flory might have felt the pressure to perform, it was Lang who was up for the biggest challenge. He went into the 161-pound championship match against Holton's Jesse Strawn, who was undefeated going into the match and had handed Lang one of his two losses on the year.
This time the outcome was different as Lang narrowly escaped a late surge by Strawn to hold on to a 3-2 win.
"Derek continued his fantastic season, getting a revenge win," said Harris. "He is now 33-2 with 19 matches ending in fall or technical fall."
Also performing well for BHS was Bonner at 119 pounds, who came in second place to Tanner Dawson of Abilene, who was voted the most outstanding wrestler of the tournament by the coaches.
"Joe Bonner had a great day going 4-1," Harris said. "He almost pinned the No. 1 ranked kid in the state (Dawson) in the finals."
Harris also noted that senior Adam Canterbury had a solid tournament wrestling in the 275-pound weight class. Canterbury is now three pins away from setting a school record for pins in a year.
BHS will be in action today at Prairie View High School at 5 p.m.