New tournament to challenge wrestlers
Weather may have canceled the annual scrimmage, which will cause line up problems, but nonetheless, the Baldwin High School wrestling team will start its season Saturday.
Wednesday's Purple and White Classic was called off because of icy conditions that hit Baldwin City Wednesday. Coach Kit Harris was going to use that scrimmage to determine many varsity spots on his team.
"We have some weight classes up in the air and we have some injuries we are uncertain about," Harris said. "We've got our line up close to figured out. By Thursday or Friday, we'll have it nailed down. We will go and see how we do."
Without the scrimmage, Harris will have a much harder time selecting wrestlers for the Bulldogs' first meet. BHS will compete at the Gardner-Edgerton Invitational Saturday.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Harris said. "We have really pushed a lot harder in the early going. They have responded really well, especially the returning guys. I am anxious to see if our increase in early season conditioning will pay off Saturday."
Junior Gabe Mason is ready to start the season Saturday.
"It's going to be a building block all the way up to state," Mason said. "Our goal is to take first, so hopefully this will start us off."
One reason the wrestlers look forward to the first meet is because it gives them a chance to compete against someone other than teammates.
"I think you kind of get to a point where you are tired of beating each other up in practice and you want to go against some opposition," Harris said. "I think we are definitely at that point now."
In previous years, the Bulldogs have traveled to Shawnee Mission East High School for its season-opening tournament. Harris changed the schedule this year for a couple of reasons.
"It's a little closer and it's a tougher tournament," Harris said. "It's got some good out-of-state teams. I like tournament format and there are a variety of teams, so we will have some really tough individual brackets. I always want to see anyone we can that has national recognition, because it makes us better."
Mason is glad the tournament is a bit harder, because it will help BHS later in the season.
"It's nice, but it's a harder tournament," Mason said. "It's our goal to go to every hard tournament we can so we can go to state and compete."
BHS returns five wrestlers that competed at the state tournament last February. Harris hopes that experience will help the Bulldogs this year.
"Our experienced guys will do fine," Harris said. "I've got some new guys that I think can do well, but it's obviously kind of a wait-and-see situation. We've got a few kids that have been in the program for several years and this is their chance to be varsity, so I am excited to see them."
Baldwin hosts a tournament on Jan. 27, which means it will be traveling to meets for the first two months of the season.
"The first three tournaments we have are all within an hour's distance," Harris said. "It's nice that we don't have to travel too much, but they are all big tournaments, as far as number of teams there. It will be challenging before Christmas, but that's what I like because I think wrestling tough guys helps point out your flaws, even when you lose."
Saturday's tournament begins at 9 a.m. in Gardner.