Callahan claims national championship
He might be out of season and out of wrestling conditioning, but that didn't stop Alan Callahan from achieving a goal of his, last weekend.
The Baldwin High School sophomore was one of seven wrestlers that traveled from Baldwin City to the KCI Expo Center in Kansas City, Mo., for the Brute Nationals tournament. Callahan set a personal goal for himself at the meet.
"I was just wanting to see how I would do and hopefully I would get all-American status," Callahan said. "I thought I had a chance to place in the top four or so. That was my goal."
Callahan, a third-place finisher in this year's Class 4A 112-pound state tournament, didn't just become an all-American; he became a national champion.
He won the 10th grade, 115-pound division bracket that consisted of 32 wrestlers from around the country.
"I was really excited to get my first title," Callahan said. "It felt pretty good. It was a pretty tough bracket."
Baldwin High School wrestling coach Kit Harris attended the event and was thrilled to see one of his competitors become a national champion.
"I was very excited because it was a tough road through a huge bracket," Harris said. "There were a lot of accomplished wrestlers from a lot of different states. He hadn't been training on full go heading into this meet, because of baseball and it's the offseason. He did a couple of workouts and he wrestled hard -- like he always does -- and very smart. He just wrestled extremely determined."
Callahan, the No. 3 seeded wrestler, won his first two matches with major decisions, 14-2 and 15-2. Then he faced a tough No. 7 seed, Kent Williams (Ill.), but Callahan prevailed and won his semifinal match 5-4.
That set him up against No. 1 seeded Nathan Furches from Derby High School in the finals. Callahan scored a take down with 48 seconds remaining in the match to break the tie score. He then hung on to win the match 3-2.
Callahan's older brother, BHS junior Kevin Callahan, served as his coach during the tournament.
"I like to have him coaching me," Callahan said. "It's nice having him there to tell me what to do and help me out. I like celebrating with him, because he has helped me out so much."
Watching the two brothers celebrate made Harris recall a moment from years ago.
"It was an exciting moment, mainly because his brother Kevin was his coach," Harris said of A. Callahan winning. "Kevin was just as excited as he was. It reminded me of years ago when Kevin was 12, both of those guys went to a national tournament.
"Kevin had a great tournament, got on a roll and started winning," Harris said. "Alan went 1-2 and was upset that he lost, but he wasn't jealous or anything. He was really excited Kevin won. When Kevin won, Alan was jumping up and down excited for his brother. This was the same situation, because when Alan won, Kevin was pumped and he gave his brother a big hug. It was kind of cool to see the brothers excited for each other."
The other six wrestlers from Baldwin that competed were named Brute all-Americans.
Baldwin Junior High School sixth grader Hunter Haralson placed second in the 80-pound division for his grade. Fellow BJHS sixth grader Bryce Shoemaker finished third in the 75-pound weight class.
BHS senior Brandon Reed placed fourth (288 lbs.), BHS freshman Aaron Elliott finished sixth (288 lbs.), Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center fifth grader Tucker Clark placed eighth (70 lbs.) and BJHS eighth grader Caleb Torneden rounded out the placers with his eighth-place finish (85 lbs.).
"They all wrestled great," Harris said. "They all wrestled hard and some even got some hard-fought wins."