Wrestlers maintain strong start
The Eudora wrestling team would get the next two weeks off no matter how it rounded off the 2006 portion of the season. With back-to-back strong showings, the squad can certainly say it earned the break, however.
The Cardinal wrestlers claimed second this time at the Emporia Winter Classic on Saturday, and with most of its early-season goals accomplished, the squad is ready for a two-week holiday break.
"There's five days over Christmas the state says that we can't have practice," coach Bill DeWitt said. "(The two-week break) will give us a chance to slow down and work on some things we don't usually work on."
DeWitt said the practices over the break are fun. He said they are filled with team bonding activities, like playing basketball and watching wrestling films.
The tournament at Emporia, like previous tournaments, was filled with its fair share of impressive matches. Travis Clarke and Tim Durkin led the Cardinals with their second-place finishes in the 130 pound and 189 pound division, respectively . Michael Whitten, wrestling at 135, Matt McPeek at 140, David Westerhouse at 152 and Loni Ogden at 171 each placed third in their respective weight classes.
Evan Meyers and Richard Wilks each placed fifth in their brackets. Cody Salzman was fifth in the 103-pound division and Jacob Love was sixth in his division.
DeWitt said he was especially impressed with Westerhouse, who wrestled a tough match in the championship bracket.
"He was wrestling a kid from McPherson who was pretty decent," DeWitt said. "David just worked him over and finally got him pinned in the third period. It was nice to see him get in a match with confidence."
But the team's second-place finish with 169 points was not a guarantee throughout the whole tournament. After the first round of the tournament, the team found itself in some unfamiliar territory -- 12th place.
"It was a really bad first round," DeWitt said. "We woke up, and the kids really wrestled well in the backside of the tournament. My only concern right now is that we've got to get it done a lot earlier. We need to work better in the first round."
The Cardinals came back to third place before the last round of the championship bracket, and Eudora's hopes of moving up again came down to one match.
With Emporia just four points ahead of Eudora, Whitten stepped up and made quick work of his Emporia counterpart, giving the Cardinals the bump they needed. Whitten's victory assured a Eudora second-place finish.
The tournament went to Goddard with 222.5 points. DeWitt said Goddard's finish was not really a surprise, but he was glad Eudora wrestled competitively against the team.
"They are one of the top programs in the nation," DeWitt said. "They're good -- they put seven kids in the finals and won five of them. They win the tournament every year."
DeWitt said the second-place finish was something to be very proud of, especially because Eudora finished in 12th place at the same tournament last year with only 20 points. He said the wrestling program is much more mature this year, which was evident at the Emporia tournament.
DeWitt said the two weeks off from tournaments should be relaxing, but also very focused to allow the Cardinals to prepare for what possibly was the most important triangular match up of the season.
"We have senior night on Jan. 4," DeWitt said. "It's going to be a tough dual tournament against Gardner-Edgerton and Ottawa. We like to get the community to come out and support us. With this many seniors, we should get a good crowd. The seniors deserve a big crowd."