Very nice, high five!
The regional wrestling tournament, hosted by Baldwin Friday and Saturday, saw its fair share of Eudora successes. With the team placing sixth overall, five Eudora wrestlers won the opportunity to wrestle one more time -- at state.
Richard Wilks, 285 pounds, placed fourth; 160-pound wrestler Jake Love came in at third place; Travis Clarke placed second at 130 pounds; Tim Durkin, 215 pounds, also placed second; and for his second consecutive week, Evan Meyers took the championship in the 189-pound class, winning via pin in every match.
Coach Bill Dewitt said it was tournaments like regionals that really made him proud of his team.
"Everybody wrestled their behinds off," DeWitt said. "I was pleased after Saturday. Most guys put themselves in a position to qualify for state. I was as proud of my team as I've ever been."
Among the five qualifiers, Love, Wilks and Clarke are first-timer state qualifiers. DeWitt said it was exciting to see them make it to the final level for the first time for various reasons.
His freshman year, Clarke had a losing record. Last season, Clarke improved that to 23-23. Now, Clarke is sitting at 38-10 and going to state.
The junior made it to the regional finals after several close bouts. He let a 6-0 lead slip away against Nathan Cooper in his quarterfinal match, then gave up another two-point advantage in the third round's final seconds, tying everything at 10 and sending it into overtime. He finally recaptured the momentum, however, advancing to the semifinals with a 14-10 decision.
He beat Izaak Winter of Anderson County with a 6-5 decision to advance to the finals, where he lost a 3-1 decision to Baldwin's Kevin Callahan.
Love dominated his way through the bracket, only slipping up in his semi-final match against Matt Owings of Prairie View. Love pinned his first two opponents in less than two minutes combined and won his final two matches in the loser's bracket with first-round pins, setting up the trip to Salina via a third-place finish.
Wilks, wrestling in just his first year, barely made the cut, finishing fourth, and his humble 19-18 record has him paired against the state's top seed in Friday's opening round at state, but DeWitt said his largest wrestler will be ready.
Wilks lost in the quarterfinals at regionals via pin, but rebounded in the loser's bracket and advanced to state after pinning Oscar Villalobos of Council Grove in three minutes, 51 seconds.
"Richard is going to have a date with the No. 1 ranked kid in the state in his weight class -- Atticus Dizney," DeWitt said. "But hard competition has never bothered Richard. He can handle it."
Senior Tim Durkin made his way through the bracket without a pin, but he won his first match with a 15-0 technical fall and advanced to the regional final with an 8-3 decision over Jake Tech of Abilene. He lost in the finals, falling to the state's top-seeded 215-pounder, Jake Kober of Santa Fe Trail, in a 4-1 decision.
Meyers, just a week removed from securing the Frontier League 189-pound title, blasted his way to the finals, and had little trouble once he got there.
Only in the semi-finals did he take more than one round to pin his opponent and he did away with Jacob Grant of Fort Scott in 1:34 to claim the title.
Meyers, 34-9, will wrestle Jason Swearingen of Independence, 21-6, in the first round at state.
One thing DeWitt said he attributed a lot of his team's successes to was the crowd support from parents and Eudora residents that traveled to support the team.
"The crowd was just phenomenal," DeWitt said. "I was really impressed by the amount of people that came up from Eudora. Parents of kids who no longer are wrestling on the team anymore came up to support us. That means a lot to us."
DeWitt said he didn't expect the final week of practices to be too tough for the state-bound guys. He said he was just going to focus on keeping them healthy by having them jog, talking about potential competition and watching regional tournament film.
But the weekend wasn't all smiles. Five seniors saw their high school wrestling career finish sooner than they would have liked. Michael Whitten, Matt McPeek, Kyle Scrimsher, David Westerhouse and Loni Ogden packed their high school gear up for the final time Saturday evening.
Ogden said he was somewhat sad about how things ended.
"I did all I could," Ogden said. "I'm kind of disappointed. I'm happy the way I ended it, but not the way it ended. I'm going to miss high school sports -- I'm not doing a spring sport."
Westerhouse said although he wasn't going on to state to wrestle, he was proud of the five guys who were and thought they would do well. He said he and the four other seniors who aren't wrestling at state would still go to support their friends and teammates.
But DeWitt said the wrestlers not advancing to state had nothing to be disappointed about -- they all wrestled exceptionally well all season and at regionals.
"I was so proud of them," DeWitt said. "Even when they were on the backside of the bracket and knew they might be wrestling their last match, they wrestled hard. They didn't let that affect them. When it was over, there were some tears.
"They spilled their guts, but just came up a little short. It wasn't from a lack of effort."