Cardinal wrestlers exceed expectations in 2004-05
Coach pleased with team’s effort
The Eudora Cardinal wrestling squad finished the season with five wrestlers hitting the mats at Wichita. But for head coach Bill DeWitt the best part of the season was the progress of his team.
"I'm really satisfied of what we did as a team," DeWitt said. "I was really proud of the fact that there weren't any expectations for us as a team."
Things didn't look good for the Cardinals as the season began. Eudora opened at home against the state's third-ranked team, Santa Fe Trail. The Cardinals were forced to give up 30 points in open weight classes and fell to the Chargers, 65-7.
The team bounced back the next time around with a solid second-place finish at the George Worley-Larry Tilton Tournament at Atchison. The Cardinals minimized the lost points in open weights at Atchison on their way to victories over Pleasant Ridge and Atchison.
Eudora got a big boost in mid-December as senior leader Josh Barr returned from an injury sustained during the football season for the Eudora Tournament of Champions. Barr finished third for Eudora, but the coach saw some things that needed to be improved.
"He was still rusty then," DeWitt said. "But I knew he'd come back strong."
Eudora finished 13th as a team in the tournament.
After the Christmas break, the squad took to the mats at Emporia and the head coach was not impressed.
"That was not a good effort from us," DeWitt said. "They just didn't seem to have a lot of focus."
The squad bounced back at Bonner Springs as Barr and junior Miles Cleveland took first and second place, respectively. The team scored 80 points to finish seventh at the tournament.
"After what happened at Emporia this was a good effort," DeWitt said.
At the end of January, the Cardinals were able to put on their annual "Raise the Roof" after an ice storm canceled the scheduled date.
It was a chance for the four seniors to wrestle at home for the last time. Barr and fellow seniors Andy Coffman, Chris Durkin and William Bock helped the Cardinals defeat Ottawa 58-22 and roll over Wellsville 66-6.
The head coach was proud of the effort his seniors gave in their final home match.
"They wrestled well and I'm proud of them," he said. "Coaching guys like that is what keeps you coming back."
The Cardinals kept the momentum at Concordia and then hit a bit of a bump the following week in a make-up dual against Baldwin and Paola.
"We didn't wrestle well," DeWitt said. "We were sluggish and it showed."
The Cardinals' sluggishness resulted in a 61-9 defeat at the hands of Baldwin. They also had a difficult time with Paola and 45-25.
After the poor showing at Paola, the Cardinals bounced back at the Frontier League Tournament. Barr and Coffman captured first-place honors. The strong showing helped vault the Cardinals into the 4A regional at Fort Scott.
The Cardinals showed up in Fort Scott and took care of business. Five Cardinals earned spots at the 2005 state wrestling finals.
Most impressive among those wrestlers was William Bock. He won four matches in a row to earn a spot despite having a losing record.
"William is the best example of commitment to this sport," DeWitt said. "He worked hard and showed what could be done if you work hard."
Bock joined Barr, Coffman, Cleveland and sophomore Tim Durkin at the state tournament in Wichita.
Although the results at state were not what the coach had hoped for, he was pleased with the effort.
"Those guys put everything they had out there," DeWitt said. "I couldn't have been more pleased."
Although the departure of the senior core was a focal point for the team, DeWitt took other things away from a successful season.
"I saw some young guys that are on the verge of stepping up," he said. "They were a part of this and it makes me excited about what kind of team we can have in the future."