Baldwin claims first-ever state wrestling title
With two team members grabbing gold and five others placing, the Baldwin High School wrestling team won the school’s first state championship this weekend in Salina.
The Bulldogs brought home the 4A state championship and its first-ever state wrestling trophy by scoring 113 points Friday and Saturday in Salina. Chanute finished second with 105 points.
The team really came together in the last month when it could field a complete team, Harris said. It picked up momentum as it swept the Frontier League, regional and the regional and state titles, he said.
“We just worked on getting everybody healthy and in the right weight classes,” Harris said. “Once we got to league, regionals and state, we had it figured out. The team had a lot of momentum and confidence. They supported each other very well. I think it showed in all the close matches we won.
“Kids in every calls contributed, which was nice.”
Senior Jon Pratt concluded his BHS career with the 152-pound state individual title, finishing the year with the stellar 48-5 record. Also winning gold was Thomas Lisher at 138 pounds. The sophomore’s season record was 43-4. Both Bulldog individual champions faced foes from Abilene in their title matches. Lisher defeated Trey Hoerner with a first-period fall, and Pratt prevailed in a hard-fought 1-0 decision against Seth Strauss.
“I scored on an escape and rode him out,” Pratt said. “I was a little nervous because it’s wrestling and anything can happen, but I beat him twice already this year.”
It was a nip-and-tuck contest for the team championship as Baldwin and Chanute traded the top two spots on the leader board throughout the two days of competition. Chanute had the lead late Saturday until Baldwin wrestler Owen Tuckfield and Joel Halford put the Bulldogs back on top by winning their third-place matches.
Tuckfield’s state third-place winning effort at 160 pounds against a Prairie View opponent put the Bulldogs on top in the team race. Senior Halford soon followed with 9-1 decision against a Paola wrestler to keep the Bulldogs in first with a slim 103-99 edge on Chanute going into the finals.
Had Halford’s match against a Chanute foe gone the other way, Chanute would have won the team title, Harris said.
Pratt, a four-time state qualifier for the Bulldogs, had the distinction of sealing the team championship for the Bulldogs with his gold-medal victory.
Other Bulldogs who finished their season’s on the state medal stand were Levi Green, fourth at 160 pounds, Joel Katzer, sixth at 170 pounds, Jake Katzer, fourth at 190 pounds.
Also going to state were senior Gunther Wehrman, junior Ben Morgensterm and freshman TJ Hopper.