Team looks to young wrestlers
Despite returning a solid core of seniors, the success of the Eudora High School wrestling team rests with unproven freshmen and sophomores this season.
Eudora first-year coach Bill DeWitt said his wrestlers, who began practice Nov. 18, have shown they are ready to compete at a high level.
"I've already told my seniors they have to lead by example," DeWitt said. "I've been really pleased with our practice habits up until now. We have good seniors, and then we're just incredibly young. It's very promising that we have a large freshman class."
Four wrestlers, sophomores Josh Barr and Chris Durkin and seniors Michael Paxton and Luke Powers, played for the Eudora football team. Durkin suffered a broken leg in the football game against Fort Scott and is out for the season. Paxton and Powers hit the mats before the Thanksgiving break.
Five seniors, including state qualifiers James Barr, 160-pound class, Shane Grant (the state runner-up in 275), and Powers, 152, return for the Cardinals.
Austin Roberts, 140, and Paxton, 215, complete the senior class.
Sophomore Andy Coffman will return at the 103-pound division.
There are no juniors, but DeWitt said the freshman class, with nine wrestlers, looked promising.
"Not having any juniors kind of hurts us," DeWitt said. "I have a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. I'm going to have to rely on those guys a lot."
DeWitt said one of Eudora's challenges would be finding a slot for everyone on the team to wrestle.
"Realistically, we probably won't be at the weights we want to be at until after Christmas," DeWitt said. "We have a bunch of kids that are talented all around the same weight. We'll struggle a little bit to fill every weight class. I think we'll be a very good tournament team."
DeWitt said some of his freshmen could challenge for varsity spots.
The Cards open the season Saturday at the Atchison County Community High School tournament in Effingham.
Atchison County, the third-ranked team in class 3A, Pleasant Ridge, Horton, Oskaloosa, Wellsville and Basehor-Linwood will also compete in the tournament.
"Depth-wise, it's not a deep tournament but with teams like Effingham and Basehor-Linwood, our kids should get challenged."
DeWitt said the Cards would also face top-notch opponents in the Basehor-Linwood Tournament, the Bonner Springs Tournament, and the Frontier League Tournament at Paola.