Archive for Thursday, January 22, 2004

Grapplers catnipped at tourney

Eudora walks away from Bobcat Classic empty-handed but with a few success stories

January 22, 2004

A great debate has often been waged in life: whether or not the ends can justify the means.
Some philosophers will tell you no, but head coach Bill DeWitt and his Eudora wrestling program take the Machiovellian approach and hope the answer is yes.
DeWitt and his very young team are banking that their terribly difficult schedule will prepare them for regional and state tournaments.
The Cardinal grapplers are battling through a merciless schedule loaded with superior talent and experience. They have taken their licks, collected their ego-checks, and been given a solid dose of humility.
Another wrestling tournament has come and gone with few fireworks or fanfare. Last weekend, the Cards ventured to the Basehor-Linwood invitational -- again no medals for Eudora. Individually there were a few minor successes, but 2-2 records rarely make headlines.
"I thought our effort for the most part was pretty good," DeWitt said. "I'm not discouraged by getting beat. What I get discouraged by is losing.
"My kids aren't losers. They're not dying. Their mentality is great. They are believing more and more that they can win in regionals."
DeWitt could have scheduled lesser opponents, but he sees the damage that can be done. He viewed shallow victories as lessons wasted. He said a person can learn more in a loss to a great wrestler than in a win to an average wrestler.
"The ideal thing to do with this team is change the schedule," he said. "Go to lesser tournaments and get some wins, but I don't want to underestimate my team. We're going to get better this year ---- I'm not worried about it."
DeWitt views his coaching philosophy as beneficial to his and his team's personal development.
"Really what we do is talk to the kids about wrestling," DeWitt said. "But not only wrestling. We talk about what will happen when he's out of high school or college and gets on his own. Nothing's easy. You go through life trying to find the easy route, but it's a hard journey."
What is so impressive is that DeWitt has his team believing it.
"It won't put a damper on the season," DeWitt said. "I have no doubt that my kids couldn't care less about their records. They just want to get better. I bet if you ask them what their record is, they'd have no clue."
The goal is simple for Eudora: gain experience battling the best now so they may beat the best in the postseason.
It is especially difficult to convince athletes who compete on an individual stage.
"It is tough," DeWitt said. "In a sport like this, if you lose there are not a lot of places to hide."
Eudora's boys are doing anything but hiding. They are meeting their competition head-on.
"I think the kids have responded," DeWitt said. "They had an early tournament that was really easy, and it got some wins under their belt. But the kids got complacent; now they know complacency is not a good place to be.
"They're finding out here in the middle of the season that they can compete at this level."
Sophomore Miles Cleveland (125 pounds), sophomore Austin Calhoon (130), junior Chris Durkin (215) and junior Josh Barr (189) are getting close.
"I could take those four kids to a different tournament and they would all be in the finals," DeWitt said. "They would get their bracket on their wall or extra medals, but it won't prepare yourself for state."
The Cards will be at home at 5 p.m. Thursday for a dual meet with Spring Hill, Osawatomie and Wellsville.

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