Wrestling BIT brings talent
Saturday's Baldwin Invitational Wrestling Tournament will feature many good teams, including the 18th ranked team in the country along with two of the top three teams in Class 4A.
"I'm excited," coach Kit Harris said. "It's going to be some great wrestling, with a lot of great wrestlers who have proven themselves on the state and national level."
The meet will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday and will take place at Baldwin Junior High School.
Harris said he has tried adding one quality team to the tournament every year.
"Every year we have added one team that is a high level team," Harris said. "This year is no exception. In fact, this year the team we have added is the best one we've had in the tournament to date."
This year, Oak Park (Mo.) High School will be participating in the BIT. Oak Park is currently ranked 18th nationally and first in all classes of Missouri high schools.
Oak Park coach Gary Mayabb is looking forward to the tournament, because of the different rules from state to state.
"I think this is going to be a great competition," Mayabb said. "One reason is because Kansas rules are different than Missouri rules. It's going to help us down the line."
Oak Park currently has five All-Americans on its roster and many nationally-ranked wrestlers, including Zack Bailey (135 pounds). Bailey is ranked No. 1 in the country at his weight class.
Another wrestler for Oak Park is also ranked in the top 10 nationally. Scott O'Donnell (112) is ranked eighth in the country.
"I am very fortunate to have great kids that work hard," Mayabb said. "We've been fortunate to have things going our way right now."
The field of teams also includes Abilene and Santa Fe Trail, which are ranked first and third in Class 4A. Lansing will also be there on Saturday, and has the potential to receive a trophy at state in Class 5A.
Harris said the number of good teams is good for the tournament and the athletes.
"The level of competition makes it exciting for fans, is great for the sport and is also good for the kids," Harris said. "It makes us better for what we are all gearing for at the end of the year."
Baldwin Activities Director Roger O'Neil said the competition will help the wrestlers and the program.
"We usually have a good turnout for it," O'Neil said. "I don't think it can do anything but help us. It will just benefit our program."
The 125-pound weight class features three wrestlers ranked in top two of the class. Tanner Dawson, Abilene, is ranked first in Kansas 4A, Lorenzo Mundy, Santa Fe Trail, is ranked second in Kansas 4A and freshman Dylan Joiner, Oak Park, is ranked second in Missouri 4A and is honorable-mention All-American.
There are four teams returning that placed in the top five last year at the BIT. Santa Fe Trail won the team championship, Royal Valley took third, Lansing placed fourth and Baldwin brought home fifth place.
Harris said he expects his team to compete hard and try its best.
"I expect us to wrestle hard, compete, place as high as we can and use the experience to help make us better," Harris said.
The other schools attending will be Council Grove, DeSoto, Marysville, Mill Valley and Tonganoxie.
At the end of the tournament, the top three teams will receive plaques and the top four wrestlers in each weight class will receive medals. There will also be three awards given out. The awards will be the outstanding wrestler award, Gorrarian award for the wrestler with the most falls in the least amount of time and the good sport award.
Harris said the fans should expect some good competition, especially with the number of nationally ranked wrestlers.
"The crowd's probably going to be looking forward to watching these guys come in there that have these national honors," Harris said. "We have four or five wrestlers ranked in top 10 nationally coming here to compete in our home gym."