Cardinal wrestlers prepare for state tournament
Five Eudora wrestlers will head to Wichita this weekend to compete in the 4-A state tournament
Dustin Crowe is hoping the fourth time will be a charm at the state wrestling meet in in Wichita.
Crowe has made the state field all of his high school years and now, as a senior, plans to take full advantage of the opportunity.
Despite his best attempts, Crowe has yet to win a match at state.
As a freshman at 103 pounds in the 3A tourney in Hays, he came close in a 7-6 loss.
His sophomore season he was downed by two eventual medal winners.
"I was nervous. That was the main problem last year. I'm going to be a lot more focused and concentrate," Crowe said of this year's trip to Wichita. "I'm happy with going to state and have higher expectations."
Crowe knows that if he wins his first match at state, he'll face Austin Devoe of Columbus, a previous state champ.
Crowe wrestled Devoe earlier this season in a competitive match at the 20-team Basehor tourney.
Going into that tournament, Crowe had dropped from 125 to his present 119-pound weight class. He said the sudden change in weight affected his performance.
"I had cut weight and was too weak," he said.
Now strong and in the groove at 119, Crowe said he plans to take it one match at a time. With a 22-6 senior record, and 80 career wins for the Cardinals, he is prepared.
"He's really wrestling well and has a real good shot to win a medal. I think he's ready to go," Coach Ron Abel said.
"I'm looking forward to it. I look forward to it every year," Brian Harris said of his fourth trip to the state tournament. "I'll go out there and do my best and hope it turns out well."
Harris' best has produced a perfect 33-0 record in his senior campaign.
With 114 career wins, two regional championships and two state medals under his belt, Harris is poised for the final challenge.
It won't be easy and his toughest match might not come in the finals. Harris is currently ranked second at 135 pounds. Colby's Matt Murray, also a senior, holds the top ranking. The two are on the same side of the bracket in the non-seeded state tourney.
"I wish Brian was on the other side of the bracket so the top two ranked kids could possibly meet in the finals," EHS Coach Ron Abel said. Abel is also Harris' uncle.
Harris, who wrestles well on his feet and leads his team in takedowns, said quickness is his greatest asset.
He used that quickness to best Travis McBurney of Santa Fe Trail, a state runner-up last year, in last Saturday's regional final. After three stalemates in the match, it was tied at 2-2 going into the final period. Harris started in the down position, escaped with a whistle move and took McBurney down three times in the last two minutes to win 9-4.
"My closest match was at regionals. He was pretty defensive and I missed some opportunities to score," Harris said.
Now the final one is on the horizon.
"I'd like to win state, it's my goal," Harris said. "I'll have to be really focused."
A mistake at regionals has made Brett Becker even more determined as he heads into the state tournament this weekend.
The senior lost the regional title bout to Brandon Vanderbur of Osawatomie, who Becker beat in overtime at league the previous week.
"I haven't been pinned since I was a freshman," Becker said. "I fell into a move and tried to wait it out and not move, but my shoulder wasn't up. I was a little too sure I wasn't going to get pinned."
Becker is accustomed to being the one doing the pinning. He became the school's career leader in victories by fall with a pin of Baldwin on Feb. 8. The old record was 69 pins. Becker currently has 72.
As a junior last season, he set the single season pin record with 23 and added four technical falls. His league championship over Vanderbur marked his 100th career victory at EHS, and he takes a 28-4 record to state.
That overall record includes wins in three different weight classes.
Becker's balance and unusual style of wrestling makes him a force at any weight class. He used the high-risk headlock at regionals his sophomore campaign to oust the undefeated number 1 seed from Prairie View. That victory propelled him to his first state tourney and the 12-7 decision remains a highlight of his career.
Now focused on state and new heights, Becker wants to improve on his fifth-place showing last year.
He's heard about the "Parade of Champions," now he's ready to experience the atmosphere of the combined 4-5-6A state tournament held in the huge Kansas Coliseum in Wichita.
"I don't know what to expect at state," junior 215-pounder Jason Marmon said. "I'm a little bit nervous of the unknown. I'm going to learn everything I can from the experience and take it one step at a time."
The step that sent Marmon to state came in his pivotal match in the consolation semifinals at regionals against Chapman. Following a scoreless first period, Marmon exploded for six points in the second with an escape, takedown and near fall.
He was able to ride out the final two minutes and win 6-0.
In his next match going for third place, he faced Spring Hill's Clint Bowman and was edged 6-4 in overtime to finish fourth.
"I had beat him twice before. I wasn't as focused as I should have been," Marmon said of the consolation final.
Marmon started the season wrestling in the 275-weight class and lost 15 pounds in one week to drop to 215 at the Bobcat Classic. That was good for the team since last year's state qualifier at 215, Jason Lister, injured his shoulder in December and the junior was lost for the remainder of the season.
Marmon has an 18-9 record heading for state and is looking to improve.
"There's a lot of stuff I'd like to work on," Marmon said. "After regionals, I had that amazing feeling 'whoa, I made it this far.'"
A pin of DeSoto in the consolation semifinals at regionals generated the first state appearance for sophomore Shane "Bubba" Grant.
The match was tied going into the third period, 1-1, after Grant was awarded a point for stalling by DeSoto.
"He didn't move a lot and I threw him," Grant said.
That throw resulted in a pin with 54 seconds left and sent Grant to the consolation finals where he wrestled Butch Tanney of Spring Hill for the third time this season.
Tanney was victorious 2-1, but fourth place gave Grant his first chance at state.
Last season, Grant's varsity record was only 2-1. He wrestled in the shadow of Robert Collins, Eudora's first undefeated state champion, and only got an opportunity to compete when Collins sat out.
"I learned a lot of stuff with him," Grant said of Collins, who graduated. "He taught me techniques to wrestle and moves."
At 250 pounds, Grant says he's pretty quick for his size.
"Live wrestling in practice keeps me in shape," he said.
Grant has been in good enough shape to post an 18-11 record this season and win tourney championships at Immaculata and Eudora.
"I didn't do as good as I hoped to do (at regionals)," Grant said. "I'm nervous about my first match at state, but I'm happy that I'm going."