BHS wrestlers ready for first meet
After nearly three weeks of intense training, the Baldwin High School wrestling team eagerly awaits its first tournament of the season Saturday at Shawnee Mission East.
The Bulldogs will compete against nine other teams Saturday, including Class 5A Kansas City Turner and Class 6A Wichita Heights. The meet will begin at 9 a.m.
"This is a tough first competition for us versus all big schools, but it's a great way to start the season," coach Kit Harris said.
Senior Josiah Mason (152 pounds) agreed with Harris about the level of competition at the opening meet.
"Shawnee Mission is always a tough tournament, because it's the first of the year," Mason said. "Not everyone is in peak physical shape and we tend to make beginning of the year errors."
Sophomore Kevin Callahan (119 lbs.), Baldwin's only state placer from last year, said the team is ready to start competing at meets.
"I think we are ready and we are getting a little tired of practicing," Callahan said. "We are ready to get out on the mat and compete."
Mason also likes the idea of wrestling people not on his team.
"We are definitely ready for Saturday, so we can stop beating on each other and start wrestling the other guys," Mason said.
Harris said the wrestlers are working on their moves and will hopefully be ready Saturday.
"We are not there yet," Harris said of the team readiness for Saturday. "We've got a long ways to go. We've got to get conditioned and we've got to get our moves looking sharper. We will be ready when it comes time."
Wednesday night the Bulldogs hosted their seventh annual Purple and White Dual. It is their yearly scrimmage where the top wrestlers compete for varsity spots.
The dual also serves as the Bulldogs' final tune up before the season starts.
Since Baldwin began practice Nov. 14, it has been working on technique and conditioning.
"We are trying not to go through the moves really slow, so we can get in better shape and wrestle hard," Callahan said. "We slow down every once in a while to learn some technique. We mainly just go hard to get in shape though."
Mason agreed, saying the team is working on technique while wrestling hard at the same time.
"We have learned a couple moves and refresh ourselves on some technique, but we have been training hard," Mason said. "We are working on going hard the entire time we are on the mat."
Harris said the coaches have trying to get the practice routine set, so it can then intensify the practices.
"We are trying to get all of our drill series instruction in place, so we can get more into the more intense drilling and live wrestling in the next few weeks," Harris said.
This year's roster includes 11 freshman and seven sophomores, to go along with 10 juniors and four seniors.
One of the reasons for numerous younger wrestlers might be because of increased numbers in the youth wrestling program.
"We are starting to get more and more kids that have done more youth wrestling in the room now," Harris said. "It's definitely a big plus. We've got more freshman and sophomores that know what they are doing."
Teaching the younger and new wrestlers is always the focus early in the season, according to Harris.
"We are throwing a lot at them in a short amount of time," Harris said. "They are hopefully picking a few things here and there, and over the course of the season they will catch on."
Mason said the younger Bulldogs are learning fast, while the experienced ones are trying to wrestle hard.
"Practices are going good," Mason said. "The young guys are picking everything up quickly. The guys coming back have been training hard and came in here with a warrior mentality to fight the whole time we are here."
Callahan agreed, saying the practices are very intense, because everybody wants to be successful.
"Everybody is wrestling hard and there is quite a bit of intensity in the room," Callahan said. "People are working hard to be in shape."
The Bulldogs have a few meets before the Christmas break and don't have a home meet until January. The closest meet is in Eudora on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10.