Eight is enough (medals) at Atchison
A new era dawned for Eudora High School wrestling Saturday under Coach Bill DeWitt.
DeWitt's debut saw eight grapplers, including all five seniors, earn medals at the Larry Tilton Memorial Tournament at Atchison County Community High School.
Atchison County won the nine-squad event with 196.5 points, followed by Basehor-Linwood, 128; Wellsville, 122.5; and Eudora, 118.
The Cardinals will get another shot at Wellsville this Saturday by having an 11-team invitational of their own, the silver anniversary of the annual event. Wrestling gets underway at 10 a.m., kicked off with a pancake breakfast to raise scholarship funds and purchase equipment through the Don Abel Memorial Scholarship Fund.
"I was pleased with our decision-making, effort and attitude. Everybody worked hard, and no one gave up," DeWitt said of his team's first outing. "I saw some really good things, but we also made quite a few mistakes."
Some of the good things included first-place showings by seniors Shane Grant and Luke Powers. The Cardinals tallied 21 pins on the day.
"Shane has been working hard in practice and wrestled smart on Saturday," said DeWitt.
Grant's opening match in the round-robin tourney was his toughest, and he won a 1-0 victory over Matt Young of Atchison County with an escape in the second period. Grant went on to pin his opponents from Oskaloosa and Basehor-Linwood and took a 9-2 decision against Effingham, finishing 4-0 in the heavyweight division.
For Powers, the road to 4-0 was paved with pins. The senior defeated opponents from Wellsville, Atchison County, Pleasant Ridge and Oskaloosa, all by fall, topping the 171-pound class. Powers has moved up two weight classes from last season, where he finished fifth at state in the 152-pound class. Powers, along with football teammates Mike Paxton and Josh Barr, has had little more than a week to prepare for the wrestling season.
Barr, a sophomore, and Paxton, a senior, could have used some extra conditioning because they were each tested five times on Saturday. Both ended with silver medals and impressive 4-1 records, with all of the victories by fall. Barr's only loss came in his opening match to Todd Roberts of Wellsville at 189 pounds, and 215-pound Paxton's only setback was a wild 25-19 decision to Atchison County in one of the most exciting matches of the day.
Another sophomore, Andy Coffman, also earned second place. Wrestling at 103 pounds, Coffman went 2-1 notching both of his wins by pin. His loss was an extremely close 9-6 decision to Basehor.
Senior James Barr wrestled tough throughout the day in the most difficult weight class of the tourney, according to DeWitt. He pinned three 160-pound opponents of the five he faced for the third-place medal.
Two grapplers earned their first varsity medals with fourth-place finishes. Roberts, a senior at 140 pounds, pinned his opponent from Horton in his first match; and freshman125-pounder Brouhard took victories by fall over Pleasant Ridge and Effingham to medal in his debut.
Freshman Jacob Gillihan wrestled four times in opening action at 135 pounds and gained some valuable experience that DeWitt is counting on to help his young team down the line.
With nine freshmen on the 17-member roster, the younger wrestlers will have to see some varsity time this season.
"We're a young team, but we have a good core of seniors," DeWitt said. "I was upset over some mistakes, but it's a long season and we've got a long way to go. We'll work hard and get better. Our goal is to be wrestling our best the last week of February."
To see exactly how much time the Cardinals have to prepare for the state tournament, visit the Web site at www.ehscardinalwrestling.com where the days, hours, minutes and seconds count down to the 4A state championships. DeWitt designed the Web site.
In other notes: DeWitt won the basketball free throw shooting event at Late Night Saturday.
"Basketball is an easy sport," DeWitt said, joking.