Bulldogs finish runner-up to national powerhouse
Finishing runner-up to a nationally ranked wrestling team is nothing to hang your head about.
Baldwin High School wrestling coach Kit Harris wanted his squad to know that Saturday.
"It's obviously hard to get close to a team like that," Harris said of Oak Park (Mo.) "They are on the national level and they are a really large school. But, we finished ahead of some really strong teams, so we are pleased with that."
Senior Kevin Callahan agreed with his coach.
"It's nice to finish second, because you can't really compete with Oak Park," Callahan said. "We got first out of the teams from Kansas at our home tournament. I am pretty happy with how we performed this weekend."
Oak Park won the Baldwin Invitational Wrestling Tournament with 357 points. Oak Park has been ranked as high as No. 3 in the country this season.
BHS finished runner-up to the Northmen with 240 points. The Bulldogs finished fourth a year ago in the tournament.
"I was very pleased to get second, because it was a great team performance," Harris said. "Everybody scored and a lot of guys placed. We had a lot of bonus point wins."
Leading the way for Baldwin was the brother combo of Kevin Callahan (130 pounds) and sophomore Alan Callahan (112). Both brothers won their respective weight classes, giving BHS two champions for the tournament.
K. Callahan defeated Quentin Wuthnow of Abilene to win his title.
"I was fairly happy to get the win, but I still have to work on some things," K. Callahan said. "I had a pretty good performance. He didn't score, but I should have scored a few more points and opened it up a bit."
A. Callahan was also pleased to beat Mill Valley's Tyler Williamson, but saw room for improvement.
"The last one wasn't as pleasing as I would have liked it to be, but I got the win," A. Callahan said. "I wrestled better in the first and second periods. I beat him 4-3 here last year, but he's good. I just need to wrestle a little better."
K. Callahan said he wasn't wrestling well before the BIT, but watching his younger brother helped fuel his fire.
"It helps a bunch to see him win," K. Callahan said of his brother. "Even if he loses, it makes me sad so I end up wrestling harder. It does motivate me quite a bit watching him wrestle."
The Bulldogs also had strong performances by junior Nick Rockhold (119) and senior Sam Wilson (150). Both wrestlers placed second in their weight class.
Rockhold lost by points to Oak Park's Mac Bailey, who won state a year ago as a freshman and is also a Cadet All-American.
"It's really hard to wrestle someone like that," Rockhold said. "They are never out of position and they are strong all three periods. I am glad I didn't get pinned by him. I wish I would have made it to the third period, but I was happy with what I did."
Wilson was defeated by Ray Hall, an Oak Park junior who has placed third at the Missouri state meet.
Other top placers for BHS were freshman Josh Hanson (103), sophomore Andy Thurlow (125), senior Michael Thurlow (135) and sophomore Colin Busby (145).
"I picked Colin Busby as our wrestler of the week," Harris said. "He had a great meet. He is one that is really focused on improving his skills that he is struggling with. Obviously the Callahans had another great performance and that's not surprising. Nick Rockhold continues to wrestle really well.
"Our big men did well," Harris said. "Brandon Reed had a tough loss but came back to end with a great win against a tough kid from Lansing. Cameron (Scruggs) had a great tournament. Sam Wilson had a frustrating loss but rebounded to get second. Josh Hanson had a good performance, but he's been really consistent for us, too."
Harris said the Bulldogs wrestled well as a team and keep improving with each meet.
"I was pleased Saturday," Harris said. "As a coach, you always analyze the goods and bads and there were way more goods than bads. I thought the kids all wrestled hard and everybody is improving."
Several members of the BHS team were glad to host the tournament, because of the fan support.
"It was really nice to have the home tournament," A. Callahan said. "It's nice to see everybody come watch and root for us."
Baldwin will host one more tournament this season when it hosts the Class 4A Regional Tournament Feb. 16-17.
"This was kind of training us to have another home meet, I guess," Harris said. "It's a lot of work to host a meet, but it's fun and exciting. But at the end of the day, you are kind of glad it's over."
BHS will have one final tune up before the Frontier League Tournament Feb. 10 at Louisburg. Baldwin will host a dual with Santa Fe Trail tonight at the BHS gym. The action begins at 5:30 p.m.