Card wrestlers leave mat at Concordia with experience
The Eudora Cardinals wrestling program closed its home schedule Thursday, splitting duals with Prairie View and Wellsville.
The team then traveled to Concordia for a highly competitive dual tournament featuring Chapman, Nickerson and Newkirk, Okla.
Eudora didn't return conquering heroes, but the team did return better than they left, said head coach Bill DeWitt.
"I thought that Saturday some kids started turning corners," he said. "They didn't dominate, but they all wrestled as good as they have all year long.
"Maybe we need three hours on a bus every time."
Josh Barr and Andy Coffman especially stood out.
"I thought (Barr) wrestled well, rebounding from a couple tough losses Thursday," DeWitt said. "I felt he was kind of putting too much pressure on himself and pressing. A three-hour road trip to nowhere, not knowing who you're going to wrestle, takes some pressure off."
Barr's only loss came at the hands of the second-ranked grappler in the state.
Coffman met a similar situation in his loss to a state medalist from a year ago.
The bus avoided a winter storm that threatened to pin the team down, another factor that strikes pride in DeWitt.
"I'm just really pleased with the effort," he said. "Considering the drive and all those factors and seeing schools we've never seen before, there are a lot of success stories."
The real highlight of the week though was the team's second annual Raise the Roof night Thursday. The roof was just one thing that the team hoped to raise.
The Cards were looking to raise donations for local scholarships through the Don Abel Memorial Wrestling Foundation.
They wanted to raise the community's awareness; to remind the sporting public that there's more than just one game in town and to inspire young athletes to continue developing through the middle school.
It was also meant as a tribute to honor Mike Howell, the program's sole senior.
And lastly it was a night to raise spirits.
It has been a long season for the young Cardinals, and wins have been hard to come by. But Raise the Roof also lifted another notch in the victory column.
Eudora defeated Wellsville 63-12 before losing to Prairie View by a gut-wrenching tally of 39-38.
The win over Wellsville is a little misleading -- the Eagles brought only three wrestlers. But nonetheless, all three of those wrestlers were defeated by Cardinals.
Matt McPeek and William Bock won on falls, and Coffman won on a 4-1 decision.
"Our dual record on the season is 7-8," De Witt said. "We've won a few matches, and we'll take all the more victories we can get."
Eudora's loss to Prairie View goes down as a wasted opportunity.
"We have got to take advantage when we have a chance to win," DeWitt said. "The effort wasn't horrible, but it's frustrating. You want to win matches that you can."
Individually the Cards won their share.
Bock and Coffman each won on a fall, and Barr collected a victory on a 14-3 decision.
Then there were the freshmen, Michael Whitten and Kyle Scrimsher. DeWitt asked each of them to bump up a couple weight classes to accommodate team needs. All they did was record two more Cardinal victories -- Whitten on an 11-3 decision and Scrimsher on a fall.
"Those are the things as a coach that really gets you excited," DeWitt said. "It was a fun night. And the Booster Club brought a huge group, so for the most part I didn't have to worry about an awful lot except for coaching."
The enthusiasm generated by Raise the Roof and a successful road trip appears to have been sustained thus far.
"We had a very good practice (Tuesday)," DeWitt said. "The kids are starting to figure things out. They're realizing some things they need to stick to, and they're working on technique that to a fan isn't that exciting but to a coach is very exciting.
"I believe we're getting better."
But DeWitt is keeping it in perspective and in line with the big picture.
"Obviously we're not going to rest on anything until we win a state championship -- that's always the goal," he said. "The harder you practice, the harder you surrender."