Wrestlers ready to realign season at tourney
After a rough time at Basehor-Linwood's Bobcat Classic, the Eudora wrestling team entered Saturday's Paola Invitational tournament a little bruised but still able-bodied. Throw in a stomach flu circulating around the team and add in two seniors still recovering from injuries and you have a wrestling team at least temporarily down for the count, however.
Coach Bill DeWitt, who also was suffering from the stomach flu, said although he was not too excited about the team's fourth-place finish with 124.5 points, it was understandable given the circumstances.
"I didn't know if we'd get first, but I hoped to be closer to the top," DeWitt said. "This tournament just came at a bad time because we just came from a beating at Basehor and we were a little sickly. Sometimes you just have days like that."
Regardless of the less-than-desirable finish among 13 teams, the tournament was not a failure by any means. In addition to being the highest-finishing 4A team at the tournament, several Cardinals finished strongly.
Leading the pack -- again -- was 215-pound Tim Durkin. He battled his way up to the finals, where he wrestled a highly ranked 5A competitor. Durkin evaded a pin, but just barely missed first place by one point.
Travis Clarke took home third place in the 135-pound class and Matt McPeek rounded things off with a strong fourth-place finish in the 140-pound class.
Also returning from a few weeks off because of injuries were Loni Ogden and David Westerhouse. Although the two did not place, DeWitt said it was good seeing those guys back on the mats again and redeveloping their skills.
What the Cardinals need is a brief respite to refuel and re-energize. DeWitt said the team would be getting just that.
Eudora will travel to Concordia this weekend for a seven-team dual tournament, and DeWitt said the timing couldn't be any better.
"We just get away from Eudora, which sometimes is good for the kids," DeWitt said. "We drive three-and-a-half hours and stay in a hotel. We're usually a pretty good dual team, so we really just look at this as a retreat."
One thing DeWitt said the Eudora wrestlers did extraordinarily well was not letting its current slump get to into its mind.
"Spirits are good," DeWitt said. "It's been a struggle the last few weeks to get everybody healthy. We just need to take care of our bodies and get well. They have in mind the bigger picture."
And although DeWitt said every tournament is important, the bigger picture is what really matters -- the bigger picture being the regional, district and state tournaments. He said the team was preparing for that by focusing on getting physically healthy and injury-free, as well as working on some wrestling specifics, like technique and live drills.
"This last week, we've spent a lot of our time on technique and drills," DeWitt said. "We're going to start shortening practices and get the bodies fresh. Regionals are very difficult this year. I'm sure we'll do well."