Archive for Thursday, February 17, 2005

Barr, Coffman earn firsts at Frontier League meet

February 17, 2005

The Cardinal wrestling squad continued to gear up for the 4A state regional tournament with two road trips last week. The team traveled to Paola Feb. 10 for a late season dual and then headed to Louisburg Saturday for the Frontier League tournament.

Thursday's match up pitted Eudora against its league rivals Baldwin and Paola. The outcome was less than what coach Bill DeWitt had hoped for.

"We didn't wrestle well, " he said. "We were sluggish and it showed."

The Cardinals were blistered by the Bulldogs 61-9 and later fell to Paola 45-25.

While the Paola match had its moments, it was the Baldwin showing that most disappointed the coach.

"Take nothing away from Baldwin. They're good," DeWitt said. "But they're not that much better than we are. We just fell flat and got it handed to us."

Seniors Josh Barr and Andy Coffman were some of the few bright spots on Thursday. Barr continued his strong late season performance by winning both of his matches in the 189-pound class, while Coffman did the same in the 130-pound class.

"(Josh) Barr is just wrestling tough right now," DeWitt said. "And Andy (Coffman) is just getting better and better. He just knows his stuff."

The squad had a scare during the Paola dual when senior Chris Durkin, wrestling the Panthers' Joe Payne in the 215-pound class, was driven into a row of chairs. Durkin recovered to win the match on points.

"Chris is okay," DeWitt said. "He just hit his head, so we held him out of the rest of the match as a precaution."

Durkin forfeited his match against Baldwin's Brandon Cone because of the injury. It was the second time this season that Durkin had suffered a head injury during a match.

As the dual ended, DeWitt knew he didn't need to tell his team how poor they had wrestled.

"They knew they wrestled bad," he said. "It was a quiet bus ride home so that tells me that they knew."

After an attention-getting practice on Friday the Cardinals hit the road again for the Frontier League tournament Saturday at Louisburg.

This time the results were more to the coach's liking.

"We wrestled a lot better on Saturday," DeWitt said. "We practiced well on Friday and came back with a lot more focus."

Coffman agreed.

"We wrestled with a lot more consistency and effort," he said.

Once again the senior leadership of the Cardinals came through as Barr and Coffman dominated their way to first-place finishes.

Barr finished the tournament 3-0 to claim the 189-pound class crown, while Coffman continued to impress his coach at the 130-pound level.

"Andy wrestled like a champ on Saturday," DeWitt said. "I'm amazed by how much he's improved over the years."

Durkin did not wrestle on Saturday because of the head injury he sustained on Thursday.

"It was just a precaution," DeWitt said. "He'll be ready for regionals."

To go along with Durkin's injury, the team faced another scare on Saturday. In the 135-pound class, junior Miles Cleveland was injured 12 seconds into the match, when he collided with Gardner's Luke Schlagel. The collision left a one-inch gash on Cleveland's forehead. Trainer's attended the injury and Cleveland finished the match with a 12-4 win.

"He's tough," DeWitt said. "We bandaged him up and he took care of business."

Cleveland went on to face Josh Kohn from Baldwin in the championship round. After leading the match 3-1, Cleveland was reversed and got pinned, taking second.

The strong showing did a world of good for the Cardinals as they head into Friday's 4A regional showdown.

"We're wrestling well going into the regionals," Coffman said. "It was important for us to do well on Saturday."

Aside from Barr and Coffman, whose state appearances seem all but assured, DeWitt sees other wrestlers that have a chance this weekend.

"I've got four or five guys who could get in through the back door, " he said. "William Bock and Kyle Scrimsher wrestled well on Saturday and have a good chance this weekend."

The 4A state regional tournament begins Friday in Fort Scott.

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