Third place … again
It was another third-place team finish and another victory for the Callahan brothers Saturday in Rossville.
For the third time this season, the Baldwin High School wrestling team finished third at a tournament. The Bulldogs scored 181.5 points to finish behind Clay Center (242.5) and Shawnee Mission East (198).
"I was wanting to finish up there, because if we do that, it means our kids are placing high," coach Kit Harris said. "I wasn't as worried about the team placing as I was about how we wrestled. Even when we didn't wrestle well, kids were getting wins, which is a good sign."
Two Bulldogs also came away with victories in their weight classes. They were senior Kevin Callahan (130 pounds) and his brother, junior Alan Callahan (112).
Saturday was the second tournament where the brothers both brought home gold medals. They both won their weight classes at the season-opening Trailblazer Invitational.
"They are just such consistent match winners for us," Harris said. "Alan had to pull one out though. He was down 7-3, but he rallied and won the match 12-11 with a last-second takedown. He had to face some adversity and wrestle from behind. I'm glad he had to experience that."
Although the Callahans both won their weight classes, they won them in drastically different fashions. K. Callahan defeated Tanner Johnson of SME in a major decision in the championship round.
"It was nice to win it," K. Callahan said. "I thought the guy in the finals was going to be a lot tougher than what he was. I just came out and wrestled well."
A. Callahan found himself in trouble during the final match. He trailed 7-3, but he rallied to win the match 12-11 with a last-second takedown. He defeated Clay Center's Logan Singular.
A. Callahan scored a two-point reversal in the final seconds for the come-from-behind victory. The pair also wrestled for third place at last year's Class 4A State Tournament, with A. Callahan coming away with a hard-fought 4-1 win in that match.
"It makes it a lot better when Alan wins," K. Callahan said. "He had a pretty tough match this weekend. He didn't wrestle very well, but he came back and pulled it out. If he wins or loses, it helps me, because if he loses I get mad and wrestle tougher."
Two more Bulldog seniors were runners-up Saturday. Senior Nick Rockhold (119) was taken down in the final seconds by Clay Center's Tyler Anderson, to drop a heartbreaking 4-3 decision.
Senior Gabe Mason (171) lost to Clay Center's Blake Willman 8-3. Willman is currently undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the Class 4A state poll. Both BHS wrestlers went 2-1 on the day, winning by falls and majors on their way into the finals matches.
"It was a great tournament for us," Harris said. "It was tough wrestling, because we got to see the defending 4A state champs and a strong 6A program in Shawnee Mission East. We had some key matches that we might have at state. There was some good and bad wrestling, but more good than bad."
Overall, BHS had 10 of its 13 competing wrestlers place in the top six. Finishing in third place were sophomore Josh Hanson (125) and senior Michael Barnes (215). After dropping a close 4-3 match in the semifinals to the eventual champion, Hanson rebounded for an 8-3 overtime victory, followed by a 1-0 win for the bronze medal.
Barnes went 3-1 for the bronze medal, losing only to a state-ranked wrestler from Clay Center.
"Third place is a tough place to get, because you're talking about a guy who had his sights set on the finals," Harris said. "Then they face a tough loss, but they have the guts to get some tough wins to finish third."
Senior Jake Enick (285) and freshman Colby Soden (103) were fourth-place finishers. Junior Colin Busby (160) came in fifth place and freshman Greg Schiffelbein (145) was a sixth-place finisher.
Other competitors for BHS were junior Travis Huffman (1-2 at 140), senior Alex Coffey (1-2 at 152), and junior Nick Barkley (0-2 at 189).
"I thought a lot of people wrestled really well," K. Callahan said. "We could have done a little bit better, because we took third and we were really close to taking second. We had some JV guys step in and win some matches for us."
Harris said the Bulldogs have improved dramatically since the beginning of the season, but still have areas to improve upon as the season rolls on.
"The past two weeks have been the best two weeks we've had all year," Harris said. "We are excited and getting after it. We've thrown some hard workouts at them, but they have responded and worked hard.
"We are getting better on bottom, but we still need to work more on that," Harris said. "We've got to be quicker to our shots. We've got to stay in better position and make good match decisions."
Baldwin heads to Basehor-Linwood High School for the Bobcat Classic on Friday and Saturday. The tournament includes 31 teams and will match the Bulldogs up with top competition from around the state.
"It doesn't get any easier from here on out," Harris said. "We are going to the Bobcat Classic, where there will be 31 teams. A lot of the top-ranked teams in the state will be there, so it will help prepare us for what we want to do late in the year."