Wrestlers impress at Basehor tourney
In any other wrestling tournament, getting 17th place would not be anything to get too excited about. But considering the tough Class 6A competition from Shawnee Mission East and Class 5A big guns St. Thomas Aquinas, acquiring 70.5 points -- the best Eudora has ever gotten in the 27-team Bobcat Classic tournament -- is nothing to be ashamed about.
Coach Bill DeWitt said last weekend's Bobcat Classic was arguably one of the toughest tournaments the Cardinals would wrestle in all year, and though the overall finish won't look pretty next to the team's high finishes from the rest of the season, it's something he's happy with.
"I saw a lot of good things," DeWitt said. "I think when you're wrestling at that high of caliber you can't make mistakes. We just need to get quicker. Some of (our kids) are still thinking too hard about moves."
Perhaps the most impressive Eudora showing at the tournament was Tim Durkin's second-place finish in his 215-pound weight class.
After advancing through the bracket undefeated, Durkin entered the final match against St. Thomas Aquinas' Mike Hammer, Class 6A's fourth-place wrestler a year ago.
Durkin was pinned in the first period by a fleet-footed Hammer, but in the process became Eudora's first wrestler to place in the Bobcat Classic since 2003.
DeWitt said he was extremely proud of Durkin's high finish.
"He just got caught in a bad position," DeWitt said of the final match. "This was only the second time I've ever seen him get pinned."
Durkin said early on in the match, he missed his footing, which allowed Hammer to get the drop on him.
"I'm happy with getting where I did at the tournament," Durkin said. "I could have done better, but things happen. It's one of our hardest tournaments all year."
Although no one else placed in the tournament, DeWitt said he was pleased with a few other wrestlers' performances.
Travis Clarke went 4-2 over the weekend and was only one round away from placing in the 130-pound class. Michael Whitten also did well in the daunting 135-pound class.
"Whitten was seeded in 10th, and his bracket was absolutely loaded," DeWitt said. "He went 3-2 and ended up getting beaten by the guy who went third in the tournament."
It also did not help the team was without several wrestlers who have been finishing strongly this season, including seniors David Westerhouse and Loni Ogden, both of whom missed the tournament with injuries. DeWitt said he expected Ogden to return by this week.
One thing DeWitt said he had been consistently working on with the team was getting the wrestlers to stay in the ring and put up an aggressive six minutes. He said this week saw a marked improvement.
"We're getting better and better," DeWitt said. "Our conditioning was good. I don't necessarily think we lost any matches because of conditioning. We're not making as many mistakes as we did six weeks ago. Some of our guys are getting there."
"We need to practice more live wrestling and work on situations. That's why we have to wrestle good opponents, and that's what we'll continue to do."
The Cardinals will next appear at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Paola Invitational tournament. DeWitt said he expected the team would be ready for the tournament.
"It doesn't have as many teams, but for the teams they bring in, they're very solid," DeWitt said. "If we fix some of the mistakes from this week, I think we can win, or at least give them a run for their money."