Archive for Thursday, March 9, 2006

Column: Winter sports over; it’s time for spring

March 9, 2006

Well, the winter sports season has officially ended in Baldwin City, and though I will miss a few things, I am ready to get outside, enjoy the spring weather and watch the spring sports.

The Baldwin High School wrestling season ended Feb. 25 at the state tournament in Salina. It was not quite the ending the Bulldogs had hoped for, but it was a successful season.

Freshman Alan Callahan looked to finish in top three in his weight class, but a fractured fibula in his semifinal match ended his season. He will return next year to bring home a state medal.

His brother, sophomore Kevin Callahan, placed second after finishing fourth last year. He lost to a two-time state champ, so look for Kevin to again be a top state place next year.

I know other wrestlers didn't finish their season as expected, but I would give the BHS wrestling team an A-grade on the season.

The Bulldogs placed second in the Frontier League to Paola, after the Panthers won the final three weight classes. Then, the Bulldogs went on to win regionals for the first time in 17 years.

Coach Kit Harris has this team heading in a great direction. They lose four seniors, one of which went to state, so watch out next year for the BHS grapplers.

The BHS basketball seasons ended last weekend at home in sub-state. The boys lost to Santa Fe Trail in the semifinal round. I know they had hopes of making it to state, but that dream fell short.

Speaking of short, that's exactly what Baldwin was against the 6-foot-9 Jake Carter of SFT. He is hard for any defender to stop and was too much for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs finished third in the Frontier League, a vast improvement from last year. They do lose five seniors, but coach Heath Cooper assures me the Bulldogs will not be worse next year. I am a little skeptical, but I will have to wait until December to find out.

I also give the boys' basketball team an A-grade for an improved season. The Bulldogs must improve defensively for next year or their season will end short of state again.

On Saturday, the BHS girls' basketball season ended in the sub-state championship game against Iola. It was very similar to last year, but harder to watch.

I knew Baldwin would have to play a near-perfect game to win and hope Iola played really bad. The two teams played last year and Baldwin lost by 28 points. Iola graduated one senior while Baldwin lost two seniors, who didn't play that much.

Iola is very tall and talented, and it showed Saturday night. I hope the Fillies have success at state, so it proves Baldwin lost to a very talented team.

The Bulldogs also earned an A-grade in my book. They improved from an 11-12 record last year to a 17-6 record this year. But, like the boys, they lose five seniors.

They do return their leading scorer, junior Kelsey Verhaeghe. But she will need some help next year. The Bulldogs can't rely on Verhaeghe to spark the offense, or they will be too easy to defend.

They will have a quicker team next year, but also a bit shorter. I am hoping to see freshman Tracie Weege play some varsity and give Baldwin a spark at the point guard position.

I commend all winter teams for successful seasons and helping Baldwin in the Frontier League all-sports standings

There are a few things I will miss from the winter sports. Most of all I will miss yelling "ring the bell" when Baldwin sinks a three-pointer. I am trying to let it catch on with fans, but so far no luck.

I will also miss the concession stands at the wrestling tournaments. They are so much better than basketball games. Wrestling concessions have much more options and better food.

The meets I went to had sloppy joes, hamburgers, baked potatoes, pizza and other good concession foods. I love hot dogs and nachos, but they get a little old after a while.

The final thing I will miss from the winter sports' season is Cooper's antics on the sideline. He loves to jump, make faces and flail his arms everywhere during a game.

Anytime there is a questionable call, I look down at Cooper to see his reaction. It's similar to watching coach Bobby Knight, but without the anger, or chair throwing. Although, I am a Knight fan and love his antics.

Of course, there are a few bad things I won't miss from the winter sports. First, I wont' miss wrestling cheerleaders. I understand the purpose of cheerleading and it may work during a basketball or football game. But there is no way it can help a wrestler during a match.

Only a few schools had them at meets, but they were annoying. The cheers are not very creative, hard to hear over the screaming fans and sound like a stupid war chant.

I am glad BHS does not bring its cheerleaders to wrestling meets, so thumbs up to you BHS cheerleaders.

I will also not miss the parents at basketball games. Parents from all teams, even Baldwin, love to yell at the officials every few seconds. Hint: it's not helping.

I admit, there are times to hound the officials for an obvious bad call. But parents have to learn the rules of the game first. A Spring Hill woman Saturday kept yelling for the officials to even up the fouls during the Broncos boys' game, even though Spring Hill had four less fouls than the Chargers. I just laughed every time she yelled anything, because she made no sense.

The final thing I won't miss from the winter season is how bad the BHS students butcher the 'Bulldogs in the Front' cheer. They have taken a cheer that former coach Bobby Taul created and made it sound like a group of yelping dogs.

The chant is supposed to be repeated fairly slowly so everyone can understand the words. But the BHS students fly through it, barking and slurring words. I like the cheer, but it needs some work before next fall's football season.

Well enough of my complaining, I am ready for spring sports, even though we have no track this year. Liston Stadium is making progress and will provide a beautiful home for BHS and Baker University events.

The Baker baseball and softball seasons have begun, so if you got an itch to watch spring sports, go cheer the Wildcats on at the Charlie Richard Sports Complex.

The softball and baseball seasons begin at home March 30. Then the track teams host the Baldwin Invitational at Wellsville March 31. I hope to see everyone at those events welcoming in the spring season. I know I will there with my notepad and camera.

Go Bulldogs and Wildcats!

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