Austin leads BHS wrestlers 285 crown at Holton
Jesse Austin knocked off two top-ranked wrestlers en route to his 285-pound championship at the Holton Invitational Saturday.
The Baldwin High School senior led the Bulldogs with their only first-place finish of the tournament. Austin helped the Bulldogs to a third-place finish as a team at the 17-team event.
“Saturday was one of our best performances as a team,” coach Kit Harris said. “There were some solid teams there and some tough brackets, too. We had several guys with up-and-down days, and we had lots of losses that we shouldn’t have lost, but to finish as high as we did is a good sign of how strong our team is this year.”
Baldwin scored 159.5 points to finish third. The two teams above and below BHS are ranked in the top five in Class 5A. Andover Central (No. 2 in 5A) won the meet with 204.5 points, while Shawnee Heights (No. 3 in 5A) finished runner-up. Gardner-Edgerton (No. 5 in 5A) placed fourth with top-ranked 5A team Lansing finishing fifth.
“Some of 5A teams were missing some starters,” Harris said. “Gardner was only missing one, but Lansing was missing several. That’s how it goes. We’ve been there, too.”
Austin still enjoyed beating top-ranked 5A teams, no matter the status of their roster.
“To beat Lansing was awesome,” he said. “I know they were missing some guys, but we are missing a state qualifier. I don’t know when the last time we beat them. We wrestled very well as a team.”
Austin, who was unable to wrestle the previous weekend at the Bobcat Classic, was happy to be back on the mat Saturday. He went 4-0 to win the 285 bracket.
“Jesse wrestled a Wichita East kid, who was undefeated, but Jesse beat him pretty bad,” Harris said. “When he’s in good position and wrestles smart, he’s really hard to beat.”
In the semifinals, Austin faced a wrestler, who was previously unbeaten, from Wichita East. Austin took an early lead and won the match easily, after several stops for a bloody forehead on his opponent.
“Honestly, I wrestled really sloppy,” Austin said. “He was only my second three-period match. I was really out of shape so I kept hitting everything sloppy, but when we scrambled my hips were in better position so I’d end up on top. We headbutted, and his split open. They stopped the match four times for blood. That really gave me a chance to breathe. I was really out of shape, and I think that’s what won me the match.”
In the finals, Austin squared off against the 5A's No. 1-ranked Derek Holly of Shawnee Heights. Austin was crowned the champion as he won by injury default after a first-period takedown against Holly.
“I took him down and was taking him to his back when he starting making pain noises,” Austin said. “His coach came on the mat and said he was done. I’ve never beat him until Saturday.”
Baldwin had two other wrestlers in the finals of their weight classes. They were sophomore Bryce Shoemaker (119 pounds) and junior Colton Bonner (215). Shoemaker finished 2-1 with a runner-up finish, while Bonner went 3-1 to finish second.
Shoemaker dropped a 4-1 decision to the 5A's No. 1-ranked wrestler and state champion Bo Pursel of Lansing.
“Bryce lost to a kid, who could be come a four-time state champion,” Harris said. “The Lansing kid won state as a freshman and sophomore and could win it this year as a junior. Bryce wrestled him well in the second and third periods.”
Bonner lost a 2-1 ultimate tiebreaker decision to 5A's No. 4-ranked Kyle Pacheco of Gardner Edgerton.
“Bonner lost to a state placer, who beat him by about five earlier in the year,” Harris said. “Bonner wrestled a great match against him and it basically came down to the coin toss.”
Baldwin freshman Tucker Clark (112) and junior Cody Sellers (130) finished the tournament with 3-1 records and third-place finishes. Junior Andrew Morgan (125) and senior Greg Schiffelbein (145) placed fourth for the Bulldogs. Senior Colby Soden (135) finished fifth.
“Everybody wrestled hard,” Harris said. “Everybody learned some good lessons. Now we have to correct those mistakes before league, regional and state.”
The Bulldogs will be the host Saturday of the Baldwin Invitational Tournament. Action begins at 9 a.m. in the Baldwin Junior High School gym.