BHS wrestlers ready for league showdown
By Jeff Myrick
Baldwin City Signal Editor
A week off didn't help the Baldwin High School wrestling team, but the Bulldogs got the "uglies" out with a pair of dual victories Tuesday night at Prairie View as they prepare for the big Frontier League showdown Thursday against Paola and Eudora at home.
BHS beat host Prairie View 53-18 and Osawatomie 53-17 to improve its overall record to 13-5 and, more importantly, its league record to 7-0. The Bulldogs shared the league title with Paola last year, but a victory over the Panthers and the Cardinals would wrap up the first out-right title for BHS since 1976.
Coach Kit Harris has the Bulldogs aimed at that accomplishment, but he's glad they had Tuesday night to get prepared for it after those duals were snowed out last week.
"We wrestled sloppy -- I think mainly because of our time off last week, but it was good to get that out of the way with our big duals coming Thursday night," said Harris. "We had a lot of frustrating losses against Osawatomie, then came back and wrestled better against Prairie View.
"Paola will be a very tough dual," he said. "They have beaten us for five straight years, but I think this year is our best chance to beat them. It will be exciting, that is for sure. We hope we have a good crowd."
Thursday's duals will start at 5 p.m. in the BHS gym. BHS hasn't beaten Paola since 1989, when Harris was a junior at Baldwin High. The Panthers have won five straight league titles, but they have a loss to Spring Hill this year. Because of that, the league title could be split three ways if Paola wins.
It's all played out to make a challenging week of wrestling for the Bulldogs.
"This is a tough week with Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday competitions," said Harris. "Making weight on day's practice three times in a week is not easy. It will be a grueling week, but I told the team tough weeks benefit tough teams.
"If we can think of it that way, then it can make us tougher," he said.
It also helps that BHS will be back to full strength. Several wrestlers have missed time because of various injuries.
"We have all of our starters back in the lineup except one and I think we will get him back this week," Harris said. "Full strength we are a pretty solid team."
That "solid" team scored 50 points in duals for the 12th time this year Tuesday. Leading the way with two victories were: Mark Jehle at 103 pounds; Kaleb Horne, 112; Steve Hamilton, 140; Josiah Mason, 152; Derek Lang, 160; and Kyle Flory, 171. Picking up single wins were: Joe Bonner, 119; Matt James, 125; Zach Hertzel, 135; Andreas Brandenberger, 145; Brandon Cone, 189; Luke Halford, 215; and Adam Canterbury, 275.
For the season, the top records are: Bonner, 27-9; Lang, 35-2; Flory, 31-3; Halford, 17-6; and Canterbury, 26-9. Flory is now the all-time career wins leader at BHS with 137 and Lang is right behind him with 125. Bonner has moved into a tie for ninth with 83 victories.
Flory and Lang have led the rebirth of the BHS program and have a combined 266-78 record during their four years as varsity wrestlers. Flory, who also owns a state title, is 139-31 and Lang, who has been a state placer, is 127-47.
"They have been the cornerstone of our program and its progress for four years now," said Harris.
After Thursday's league showdown, the Bulldogs will be in the Frontier League Tournament at Gardner Saturday. Wrestling action there starts at 8:30 a.m.