Lightweights lead Bulldogs at state
SALINA -- Baldwin High School senior Kevin Callahan wasn't able to achieve his goal of winning the state title, but junior Nick Rockhold and Callahan's brother, sophomore Alan Callahan, joined him on the medal stand.
All three BHS wrestlers placed in the top three at the Class 4A State Wrestling Tournament here on Saturday.
"I was pleased with it and I wrestled pretty well in the finals," K. Callahan said. "Losing in the finals made the whole tournament a little disappointing."
Last season, K. Callahan finished runner-up in the 125-pound weight class. After winning the 130-pound division at regionals, his goal was winning the state tournament.
K. Callahan finished Friday with a 3-0 record and a spot in the finals. On Saturday, he lost to Labette County's Josh Hinman 7-5.
"I got second again, but this year it upset me more than last year because I know I could have won," K. Callahan said. "It was a good match and a close score, so I was pretty disappointed."
It was his second straight year as the state runner-up. K. Callahan finished the season with a record of 44-4 with 16 falls. He sits in third place on the list of all-time BHS wins; only 17 victories behind 2004 BHS graduate Kyle Flory, who holds the top spot.
"Kevin consistently wins for us," coach Kit Harris said. "He is just a rock in our line up. I know he was very hurt not to win the title, but he lost to an excellent opponent in a great match. I know he wrestled hard and he will come back next year wanting that title."
While K. Callahan was the Bulldog expected to place high at state, not many people could have predicted Rockhold's finish.
Rockhold won his 119-pound weight class at regionals. After the first two rounds, he faced Andale's Trent Cox in the semifinals Friday night. Cox was the defending state champion in the 103-pound weight class. Rockhold trailed late in the match, but caught Cox in a headlock and won 9-6.
"I was going crazy along with everyone else," Rockhold said of his reaction after the win. "I watched the tape and Kevin jumped about 12 feet in the air. Alan tried running on the mat and (coach Brock) Hartshorn had to pull him back."
In the finals, Rockhold (33-13) lost to Concordia's Dustin Dooley 8-0.
"I was thrilled to get second, because I didn't think I was going to go that far," Rockhold said. "Looking back on the match, if I would have done a few things differently, I could have probably pulled off the win."
Rockhold's only other trip to state was during his freshman year. He went 0-2 that year and missed most of last year because of a wrist injury. Just to win a match at state thrilled Rockhold.
"Over the summer, I trained harder because I missed most of last year," Rockhold said. "I had a lot of drive this year to go far and it took me a long way."
Harris was proud of how hard Rockhold worked this season.
"Nick's season has been exciting," Harris said. "He has gotten better and better as the year has gone on. He pinned his way through league and regionals and then had a huge upset in the semifinals of state."
Rockhold's runner-up finish may have been surprising, but it was A. Callahan's effort on Saturday that was the talk of the Bulldog crowd.
After dominating his first match 15-0, A. Callahan (112) lost in the quarterfinal round 6-2, sending him to the consolation bracket and making his route to a state medal much tougher.
A. Callahan (32-5) broke his leg last year during the state tournament, so he was happy to stay healthy and wrestle this year. However, he was disappointed he didn't make the finals.
"It was all right, but it could have been a little better," A. Callahan said. "This helped get me ready for next year, so hopefully I make it to finals next year."
On Saturday, he won four straight matches in the consolation rounds to finish third.
"I just wrestled tough," A. Callahan said. "I had to pull some tricks out of the bag. The matches were really tough."
A. Callahan's older brother was proud of how he wrestled on Saturday.
"I was happy with how he wrestled on the back side," K. Callahan said. "Every kid in his bracket was tough and he wrestled really well. He was lucky to even get a medal, so to come back and get third was awesome."
Harris was even more impressed with A. Callahan, because he had to overcome the difficult loss on Friday.
"Alan lost a tough one in the quarterfinals," Harris said. "I told Alan that maybe the first-place guy is the best guy, but the third-place guy is the toughest guy. You have to come back and win four straight very tough matches.
"It was almost better off for him to go through that at this point in his wrestling development," Harris said. "I am really proud of him for rebounding the way he did."
While those three Bulldogs led the way in Salina, five other BHS wrestlers competed. They were freshman Josh Hanson (103), senior Michael Thurlow (135), sophomore Colin Busby (145), senior Sam Wilson (152) and senior Josh Wood (189).
Thurlow and Wood each won two matches during the tournament, while Hanson and Wilson were victorious once.
"The guys that got beat out really got after it," Harris said. "They all battled and that allows us to look back on the weekend with no regrets."
Wood (14-8) was pleased with his final wrestling tournament.
"I accomplished two goals," Wood said. "Just making it here was one and winning a match was the second. Overall, I was happy with my experience."
Thurlow jumped up from the 119-pound weight class this year and finished the season with a record of 24-16.
"I think I did pretty well," Thurlow said. "I have nothing to regret, because I accomplished a lot in the four years that I wrestled. Winning one match showed how much I have improved at the heavier weight class this year."
Wilson finished his season with a 24-16 record. He was glad to win a match at state during his final year.
"It was pretty exciting," Wilson said. "I am glad I won one match. I am happy I got to state but it was disappointing because I could have wrestled better."
Hanson's final record was 32-14, while Busby's was 20-25.
Baldwin finished seventh as a team with 65.5 points. It tied the highest finish by BHS at the state tournament, as it also placed seventh in 2002.
"That's a very respectable finish," Harris said. "(Class) 4A is very deep in the state tournament. I was happy to be up there. We are starting to consistently be up in there in the state ranks, which is the next step for our program. Now we've got to take one step beyond that and be a few notches higher."
Several parents and fans traveled to Salina during the weekend to cheer on the Bulldogs. Harris and the wrestlers were happy to have their support.
"I want to show them how excited I am for their success," Harris said. "Our fans were great and that helps make the weekend a lot of fun. It also helps end the year on a positive note."