Wrestling tourney loaded with talent again
This weekend's Baldwin Invitational Wrestling Tournament will once again be brining some of state's best wrestlers to Baldwin City, while also bringing a national top 10 school.
Baldwin High School coach Kit Harris said the Bulldogs enjoy wrestling in front of the home crowd, especially against good competition.
"It's a chance to showcase our program and the sport," Harris said. "For the wrestlers to be able to compete in front of their home crowd is good. It's also nice to bring a top-notch wrestling event to Baldwin City."
BHS senior Matt James is excited about the tournament and the home crowd.
"I am looking forward to it a lot," James said. "It's going to be a really tough tournament. We are going to have a lot of good teams there. It's also fun in front of the home crowd, but it's not fun losing in front of them."
Oak Park (Mo.) will be returning to the meet this year. Oak Park has been ranked as high as fourth nationally and is in the top 10 of every national poll.
"It's strong as always and maybe stronger than ever," Harris said. "Oak Park has been ranked as high as fourth in some national polls. They are in the top 10 of every national poll. They have about seven All-Americans and three national champions in their line-up."
James said one of the national champions is in his weight class.
"I have a national champion in my bracket," James said. "It's going to be tough. I would rather wrestle good guys than bad ones."
Other top schools returning this year are Abilene (ranked fifth in Class 4A), Santa Fe Trail (ranked eighth in 4A) and Lansing (ranked first in 5A).
Senior Josiah Mason said the team enjoys the strong competition, because that is what they would rather wrestle against.
"We try and go for the competition, not the record," Mason said. "We might not have as good of a record as some of the other guys, but we go to really tough meets."
Harris said two of the wrestlers that will be coming have already signed letters of intent to compete at Big 12 schools.
Despite the tough competition, Harris still wants his team to compete to its fullest.
"I still want to finish as high as we can, but I try to focus on a philosophy of performance and not results," Harris said. "I see this as training for what we are trying to accomplish later in the year."
Mason agreed that the meet will help them near the end of the season.
"I am pretty excited," Mason said. "We will have lot of good competition. It will prepare us well for league, regional and state."
Last year, Oak Park won the meet with 333 points and had six individual champions. Following Oak Park was Abilene (254 points), SFT (248.5), Lansing (227), Baldwin (161) and Royal Valley (151).
The other schools that competed were DeSoto, Mill Valley, Tonganoxie, Marysville, Council Grove and Shawnee Mission East.
Wellington will be joining the meet this year. Harris said Wellington is another strong 4A team.
Freshman Alan Callahan said he will enjoy the home meet, even though there will be many good wrestlers here.
"It will be nice having it all here and not have to travel anywhere," Callahan said. "It will be tough though."
Harris said the Bulldogs have been wrestling well lately and will be ready for Saturday.
"I think we are ready," Harris said. "We didn't come back strong after the Christmas break. We have modified our training and the kids have responded really well. The last couple meets we have looked a lot better."
The meet begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Baldwin Junior High School gym. There will be four mats going most of the day. The first, third and fifth-place matches are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. on three different mats.
Harris really hopes the community will come out and enjoy an action-packed day of wrestling in Baldwin City.
"We have four mats going all day long," Harris said. "If the community would come out, they are going to have a good chance of catching Baldwin wrestlers going. They are also going to get to see some of the top wrestlers in the nation right here in our hometown."