Eight BHS wrestlers finish in top 3 in their own weight class at Rossville
Baldwin High School’s wrestling squad kicked off 2011 with a successful tournament Saturday at Rossville.
In their first action in three weeks, the Bulldogs began the new year with a third-place team finish. The Bulldogs scored 175.5 team points, right behind Topeka-Seaman, who scored 186.5. Clay Center, No. 1 team in Class 4A, won the tournament with 241 team points.
“There were a lot of ranked kids from 6A down to 3A,” coach Kit Harris said. “Everybody was pushed and had some tough matches. We had some hard-fought wins and a few tough losses, but it was a good tournament for us.”
Eight of the 12 Bulldogs who entered the tournament left with a top-three finish. Two Bulldogs were crowned champions in their respective weight classes.
After Baldwin’s last tournament in December, Harris said his wrestlers was beginning to win the close matches they might have lost a year ago. He reiterated that point following Saturday’s action.
“We had a great tournament,” he said. “After each tournament, I always look back at those close matches, and we’ve been leaving every tournament feeling like we are winning more of those close matches than we are losing. So it’s a good sign for us a team. We also aren’t having many frustrating moments where we feel we wrestled badly. We’ve had a lot more positives this season so there is a lot to be excited about.”
A trio of Baldwin wrestlers advanced to the championship round in their weight classes. They were sophomore Bryce Shoemaker (119), junior Andrew Morgan (125) and senior Jesse Austin (285).
Shoemaker went 3-0 in the 119-pound weight class. He defeated a Clay Center wrestler in the finals.
“Bryce wrestled the No. 5 kid in the state, and he wrestled incredible,” Harris said. “Bryce turned it on and opened the match up by scoring a lot of points.”
Morgan won all four of his matches at 125 pounds. He nearly lost his semifinal match but came back and dominated his next match.
“Andrew was a beast in the finals,” Harris said. “He just looked incredible. He had an incredible mental competitive attitude. He wrestled sloppy in the semifinals and was lucky to escape with a win, but he fixed that in the finals by wrestling a great match.”
Baldwin’s other finalist was Austin, who won his first two matches by pinfall. His final opponent was the top-ranked 4A wrestler from Hiawatha. Austin.
“Jesse wrestled the No. 1 kid in the state in the finals and got caught on his back early,” Harris said. “He did a great job of fighting off of his back and not get pinned. After that he was just trying some things to get back in the match, but he wrestled him hard. He sure gave him all he had.”
Besides the trio of finalists, Baldwin had five wrestlers finish third. They were freshman Tucker Clark (103), junior Cody Sellers (130), senior Greg Schiffelbein (145), senior Keenan Coffey (189) and junior Colton Bonner (215).
“All of the guys that finished third had tough losses in the semifinals,” Harris said. “They were close to being in the finals. Tucker and Colton Bonner both lost overtime matches in the semifinals. Keenan wrestled the No. 1 guy in the state, and he gave him one of the toughest matches that kid’s had all year.”
Although Saturday was Baldwin’s fourth tournament of the 2010-2011 season, Harris is happy with his team’s progress. He is also excited about their balanced line up. Eight Bulldogs have at least 12 wins this season.
“Our lightweights are scoring points and our big guys are scoring, too,” he said. “Our guys in the middle, like Colby and Greg, are doing very well, too. Some of our younger guys are gaining experience and wrestling hard. We are pretty solid all the way around this year.”
Baldwin will be competing Friday and Saturday at the Bobcat Classic at Basehor-Linwood High. BHS was unable to practice Monday or Tuesday, because of district snow days. This weekend will be a test for all competitors. It will begin at 11:30 a.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday.
“This is one of the top three toughest tournaments in the state,” Harris said. “There will be 35 teams there and many top 4A, 5A and 6A teams in the state. There are also teams are from Missouri, Iowa and Colorado. There will be state champions and state placers that will have a hard time placing in the top eight in this tournament.”