Bulldogs battle Fargo national tournament
Five Baldwin High School wrestlers competed at the nation’s toughest scholastic tournament last week and four came away with at least one victory.
The quintet of Bulldogs headed to Fargo, N.D., for the national freestyle and Greco-Roman tournament. Four of the Bulldogs wrestled in the younger division, cadets, while the other bumped up to the juniors.
“Four of the guys got one win,” BHS coach Kit Harris said. “That does say a lot about the level that we’re competing at right now. First of all, these guys had to do the work necessary to qualify to be on Team Kansas. Then they compete against the best in the nation.”
The four Bulldogs who earned a win were junior Colton Bonner, junior Andrew Morgan, sophomore Bryce Shoemaker and freshman Tucker Clark. Junior Cody Sellers decided to wrestle in the older division with the upperclassmen and nearly came away with victories, but left with none in the harder division.
Shoemaker (112 pounds) earned the most victories, with two in the freestyle division. He pinned his first opponent in 21 seconds. In his second match, Shoemaker won the first period 3-0 before pinning his competitor. He lost the next match 2-0, 2-0 to be eliminated.
Clark (105) lost his first match in two periods, but won his second match 7-0, 6-1. Morgan (125) and Bonner (215) lost their freestyle matches, but earned victories in Greco-Roman. They each won their opening Greco-Roman matches, but lost the next two.
“A lot of them had really close losses, especially Andrew,” Harris said. “He had a guy he lost to a couple times in the spring who ended up getting eighth in Greco-Roman. He also lost to the sixth-place guy from Pennsylvania and lost 9-8 in the second period. He was really close to those guys who placed at the tournament, so he was close to really doing well.”
The Bulldogs’ coach was happy the five wrestlers competed at the tough tournament. He was proud of them for taking on the challenge.
“Many people have called it the toughest tournament for kids at the scholastic level,” Harris said. “As far as freestyle and Greco-Roman go, it’s the toughest. This is where kids go to get attention from college coaches and get scholarships. Every round is very competitive and a lot of it is luck of the draw, who you get paired up against. It teaches the kids how to wrestle against some of the nation’s best wrestlers and it also gives them some confidence to know they can compete with those guys, too. I think it’s very beneficial for them to wrestle against those state champs and medalists from all over the country.”
During Harris’ 11-year era as BHS coach, he’s seen 27 of his wrestlers compete at the Fargo tournament. Eight of those Bulldogs medaled at the state tournament, including all four BHS state champions.
“Wrestling at that level helps your skills tremendously,” Harris said. “A lot of our state medalists and all of our state champions were Fargo wrestlers. As a coach, it’s nice to see so many of our guys on the team take the time and resources necessary to be a part of that. It will also help our team and make our practice room a lot better, too.”