Six Bulldogs qualify for state
The Baldwin High School Bulldog wrestling squad took third place at regionals Saturday in Hiawatha and qualified six wrestlers for the state tournament in Wichita. Spring Hill placed first as a team and Lansing was second.
The state qualifiers are senior Kyle Flory (171 pounds), who won his third straight regional title; senior Adam Canterbury (275), who now has the school record for pins in a season with 26; sophomore Josiah Mason (145); junior Joe Bonner (119); senior Derek Lang (160); and sophomore Mark Jehle (103).
In his five years as head coach at BHS, Kit Harris has increased the number of annual state qualifiers for the Bulldogs each year. His first year he took two to state, his second year he took five, his third year seven went, and now in his fourth and fifth years there have been six qualifiers each year.
And in those years, the Bulldogs have placed as a team -- fifth, fourth, second, third and third at regionals. Harris is developing a wrestling tradition at Baldwin, putting the school on the map in the wrestling arena. Being a graduate of BHS, he wants to help Baldwin take the next step Friday and Saturday at the state tournament.
Harris was pleased with his squad in Hiawatha.
"We had a lot of exciting finishes, as well as a couple of hearbreaks," said Harris. "But, overall, it was a real good team performance for us."
Harris has a lot to be excited about, too, since he's bringing back two state placers. Flory took first at last year's state tournament and Lang placed in the top eight last year and sixth as a sophomore.
"We accomplished a lot of goals that we set early on this year, and we all worked hard to achieve what we wanted to achieve," said Mason, who won 9-7 in overtime for third place.
Harris explained what is necessary for the team to do well at state.
"A team really needs about five or six placers at state to be in contention for a top three trophy," said Harris, who had two state placers last year and a school record three the year before. "Even though we are only taking six, if all can do well, then we can finish up there."
Three of the wrestlers are making their first trip to state. Jehle is 25-19 on the year and placed second at regionals, Mason is 23-20 on the year and placed third at regionals and Canterbury is 33-13 on the year and placed fourth at regionals. The returning state qualifiers are Bonner, who is 33-11 on the year and was second at regionals; Lang, who is 42-3 on the year and placed second at regionals; and Flory, who is 39-3 and was a regional champion.
Lang nearly won a regional title, but lost a hard-fought 9-4 match to defending state runner-up Jesse Strawn from Holton, who Lang was 1-1 with over the year. Lang was losing 5-4 with 10 seconds remaining and attempted a desperation throw that gave Strawn four more points.
Two other Bulldogs were one match from qualifying in juniors Josh Kohn (130) and Brandon Cone (215). Juniors Andreas Brandenberger (140) and Luke Halford (189), as well as sophomore Matt James (125), were two matches away from placing as they finished in the top eight.
Other regional competitors were freshmen Michael Thurlow (112), Zach Hertzel (135) and Josh Wood (152).
"The kids all fought hard and competed like winners. They are fine young men and that makes me most proud," said Harris, who was a two-time state qualifier as a BHS wrestler, placing in the top six as a senior while a Bulldog from 1987-1991. "The three freshmen had a valuable experience being on varsity this season. That will help them next year tremendously."
The state tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita. Fans can follow the brackets on the internet at: www.usawks.com.