Young team still wrestling with losses
The Eudora wrestling program is still struggling. It's still too young and inexperienced, and it's schedule is still a bit too much.
The Cardinals were dealt another setback Jan. 22. In its first home meet in more than a month, Eudora fell to Spring Hill and Osawatomie.
Spring Hill devastated the Cards 60-16. Osawatomie edged the home team 37-22.
The Cards managed just three wins in 14 weight classes with Spring Hill. Three weight classes were lost to forfeit.
Sophomores Miles Cleveland (125 pounds) and Austin Calhoon (130) each notched victories on falls. Fellow sophomore Jacob Gillihan (145) claimed the third victory with a 13-5 decision.
Things weren't much better against Osawatomie. Eudora earned four individual successes on the day. One loss fell to the responsibility of forfeit.
One of Eudora's wins however, came by virtue of an Osawatomie forfeit -- freshman Matt McPeek's 112-pound weight class.
Sophomore Ryan Pittman (135) and freshman Tim Durkin (140) won on falls. And junior William Bock's (152) major decision victory rounded out the team's successes.
"Both kind of turned out as expected," head coach Bill DeWitt said. "They've just got a lot more experience than we do. The effort's there, we're just making too many severe mistakes."
Not much is likely to change at this point of the season for the Cardinals. They are simply enduring the natural growing pains of a program uncomfortably positioned in rebuilding mode.
Eudora's incredibly young roster can't age any faster than one day at a time. And there's not much they can do about its difficult schedule.
But, head coach Bill DeWitt wouldn't change the schedule even if he could.
"No, I couldn't do that," he said. "That would send the message to the kids that 'here's the real good competition, too bad you're not good enough to beat them.'
"It's cliche, but to be the best, you have to beat the best. That's the attitude at Eudora. We won't get any better wrestling against mediocre competition."
Cleveland echoed his coach's sentiments.
"I'd rather go out there and wrestle people that are better than us because better kids are going to teach us a lot more than us going out and stomping somebody," he said. "This weekend we go to Concordia, and we're going to see lot of the western schools there that are pretty tough. Maybe we won't do that well overall but each individual will be better for every time they go out."
The only way to get experience is to go out and get experience. It's just a matter of the young grapplers maintaining perspective. It is imperative that they defy traditional societal views of success and focus on the subjective victory of perpetual improvement.
"We've got a couple of individuals that will go pretty far but this probably isn't our year as a team," Cleveland said. "We are maturing pretty well though. You can see it in the practice room and when we're on the mat."
Avoiding the pitfalls of frustration is critical in the team's attempts at sustaining such healthy attitudes toward this season and beyond.
"It's a process that can't happen over night," DeWitt said. "We have to be realistic of what we can do. I think some of the older kids are a little frustrated but they have to be realistic too."
DeWitt admittedly used the word "older" loosely. Chance Rowland will be the only honoree on senior night Thursday.
The loss of only one senior may foster the growth of the program. The rest of Eudora's core is expected to return, thus giving the team something next year that it never possessed this year -- continuity and experience.
Eudora appears to be on the right path.
"The first step in building a program is developing a philosophy -- which I think we have," DeWitt said. "And the kids are buying into it. I look at the kids this year and I see their improvement."
The improvement hasn't yet evolved into wins, but improvement is improvement.
Eudora hopes to demonstrate that improvement one final time starting at 5 p.m. Thursday at home. It is the team's annual Raise the Roof Night.