Callahan hopes to thrill home crowd once again
Baldwin High School sophomore Alan Callahan thrilled the home crowd last year with his overtime victory in the 103-pound weight class.
Callahan and Oak Park High School's (Kansas City, Mo.) Cody Tyler won't have an epic rematch this year because Callahan moved up one weight class to 112 pounds.
"He (Tyler) is still wrestling at 103, so we won't wrestle," Callahan said. "It will be a good tournament. Hopefully, I will have another exciting match."
Although the lightweights won't face each other again, the Baldwin Invitational Wrestling Tournament should provide plenty of good competition once again.
"We always get excited about it, because it's a home event and we bring in Oak Park," coach Kit Harris said. "They are really good to wrestle against. We also bring in some top Kansas teams and every weight has some top-ranked kids. It's good competition. It's also fun to host a high quality event for your community."
Harris also said last year's 103-pound title match was one instance where hosting a tournament can benefit a team or wrestler.
"Last year was a good example of how a good, vocal home crowd can give some enthusiasm to the home wrestler," Harris said.
The 2007 wrestling BIT begins at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Baldwin Junior High School gym. There will be 10 teams participating, including Oak Park, which has been ranked as high as No. 3 nationally.
"They have traveled around and competed at some of the top national tournaments in Ohio and Iowa this year," Harris said. "They come in with some good competition experience. It's good to wrestle them, because you can learn a lot."
Other than Oak Park, there will be nine Kansas schools battling in the tournament. Several of the schools are ranked in their classes.
Santa Fe Trail is ranked ninth in Class 4A while Abilene is ranked 15th in the same class. Baldwin is also ranked 13th in 4A wrestling. The new team this year is Andover Central.
"Andover Central is new this year and they have been ranked between fifth and 10th in the 4A state poll," Harris said. "They were eighth last year in 4A. They also have a national champion at heavyweight. They have three other guys that are ranked high in the state."
BHS senior Brandon Reed is ready for the home tournament, because he will compete against many great wrestlers.
"I am looking forward to it a lot," Reed said. "There are some really high ranked wrestlers that will be there. The Oak Park kids are a great bunch of wrestlers. They will show us our strengths and weaknesses. It's a great tournament."
Callahan is also prepared for some tough matches.
"I am looking forward to a tough tournament with a lot of tough wrestlers," Callahan said. "Hopefully, everybody will come watch. It will be fun and, hopefully, I will have a good finals match like last year."
When it comes to expectations, Harris always wants to place well as a team, but he has other goals at this tournament.
"I would like to finish high," Harris said. "I also want every wrestler to get a win and some team points for us. I want to put a lot of importance on our key matches that we have for regionals."
The Bulldogs have placed high at their tournaments this season, despite dealing with injuries and other issues. Although the line up has changed frequently, Harris is proud of how his team has competed or cheers for teammates.
"We haven't had our full-strength line up yet and we won't all year," Harris said. "We are working toward that. It's been an exciting year. I am really proud of the kids that have had to miss for various reasons, because they have still been contributing to the team and patiently waiting to get back into the line up."
The Bulldogs will have their hands full Saturday. There will be five rounds of wrestling before the placing rounds begin. The rounds will start at 9 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. Each of those rounds will use all four mats.
The fifth, seventh and ninth place matches will begin at 4 p.m. on all four mats. The championship and third place matches will start at 4:30 p.m. on three mats.
Plaques and awards will be distributed after the final matches have been completed Saturday.