Losses end duals season at 6-3
It was Valentine's week, and the Eudora grapplers showed a lot of heart. And so did their fans.
The first-ever "Raise the Roof" event to benefit the Don M. Abel Wrestling Foundation and to fill the stands for wrestling was a rousing success last Thursday. The barbecue dinner netted $800. The fans were treated to 5-1/2 hours of top-notch competition between three of the best teams the Frontier League has to offer.
"The turnout was outstanding and exceeded what we planned," said Cardinal coach Bill DeWitt. "It was great for our kids. The Booster Club and fans were tremendous. We'll make it bigger and better next year."
On the mats, Eudora struggled against Paola and Baldwin. Miles Cleveland posted the only victory versus the Panthers with an exciting overtime match at 112 pounds. Tied 1-1 with only an escape to each wrestler, Cleveland scored a takedown with 14 seconds left in overtime for the 3-1 decision. Sophomore Andy Coffman received six points for a forfeit because Paola was open at 103, but it was the Panthers the rest of the way for a 52-9 win. Five combined points separated the decisions at 160, 189 and 275.
"Give Paola credit, they are a very good team," said DeWitt of the league leaders. "We couldn't turn the corner against them."
It was closer against Baldwin. The Cardinals started with a strong showing in the lightweights. Coffman, who experienced a lack of 103-pound competitors, got things rolling with a second-period pin. Cleveland followed with another tight match that was decided at the buzzer by a takedown that gave him the 3-2 edge. Freshman 119-pounder Kyle Brouhard added a 15-6 major decision, and there were two close matches at 135 and 140, but not another victory until 160. There, senior James Barr avenged an earlier loss with a big 10-5 win on the strength of a nine-point second frame. Big men Michael Paxton and Shane Grant pinned at 215 and 275, respectively, but the Bulldogs took the dual 39-28.
The losses ended Eudora's dual season at 6-3. Both Paola and Baldwin closed out at 8-1.
Paola continued its winning ways at the Frontier League tournament, which it put on Saturday. Anderson County, a team the Cardinals beat in duals, was second, followed by Baldwin. The Cards were seventh.
"We wrestled hard and with tremendous effort. From start to finish we were scrapping, still hitting moves and still trying at the end of every match," DeWitt said.
Coffman claimed the league championship at 103 pounds for the Cardinals. Going in as the No. 1 seed, Coffman had a bye in the opening round. Up 4-1, he pinned Wellsville in a minute in the semifinals to set up a rematch with Baldwin. Coffman scored an immediate takedown and never looked back in the 14-1 decision that gave him the gold medal.
Seniors Paxton and Grant also made it to the finals. Paxton got there with his trademark by pinning Spring Hill in the first period and then tying the school mark for pins in a single season in his second match. Against a familiar foe from Prairie View, Paxton recorded his 23rd victory by fall in the semifinal round. In the 215-pound finals, he faced Steve Cullor of Paola and wrestled tough, but lost 6-1.
Grant too finished as the league runner-up. He pinned a Spring Hill opponent in the first round and then faced Paola's Caleb Payne who had edged him 4-2 two days earlier. This time Grant set the tone with a quick takedown and two back points, going up 4-0 after the first period and went on to a 5-3 decision over the No. 2 seed. In the finals he lost to top-seeded Dennis Kimzey, whom Grant beat once this season.
James Barr went 3-1 Saturday at league and took the third-place medal. He beat Osawatomie 9-3 in his opener at 160 pounds but then suffered a 9-3 setback to Baldwin, moving to the consolation bracket. There he pinned Spring Hill, an opponent who had beaten him previously, and posted a major 21-7 victory over Gardner in his last match to finish third.
Senior Austin Roberts won two matches at league both against foes that had beaten him previously. In the 140-pound weight class, Roberts trailed Osawatomie 2-6 with only 15 seconds left in the match. From the neutral position he worked a takedown with a cradle and titled his foe for three points and a 7-6 win. His other victory on the day was a 17-4 victory over Baldwin.
Cleveland and Brouhard also went 2-2 on the day. Cleveland opened with the No. 1 seed from Spring Hill and battled to a 1-0 loss. He came back with a pin of Anderson County and beat Gardner 6-5 before being edged by Prairie View 3-2. Brouhard scored 23 points in his first match of the day, out-scoring his Louisburg foe by 13. He also pinned Gardner.
Sophomore Josh Barr won a single match by pinning Osawatomie at 189 pounds and lost a close 3-2 decision to the eventual third-placer from Gardner.
Jacob Gillihan (130) and Bobby Kurtz (145) rounded out Eudora's 10 competitors and both drew the No. 1 seed in the first round. Senior Luke Powers, seeded third at 171 pounds, was unable to continue after being injured in his first match. It is unknown how serious the injury is at this time.
"Luke was trying to hit a move and couldn't get up, "DeWitt said of the possible rib injury. "His nature is so competitive that he wanted to go on, but there were no positives that could come out of that. Hopefully, he'll be able to compete at regionals."
All-important regional competition begins Friday at Santa Fe Trail, where the top four in each weight class earn a trip to state. The teams to beat are the host Chargers and Fort Scott. Other teams in attendance will be Baldwin, Burlington, Chapman, Council Grove, De Soto, Anderson County, Prairie View, Louisburg, Osawatomie, Ottawa, Spring Hill and Topeka-Hayden.