Triumphs trump dreary ending for wrestlers
Sure, the end of the 2006-2007 Eudora wrestling season may have mirrored the end of the previous season -- in disappointment. Five wrestlers advanced to the state tournament, but they were all eliminated by the third round, making it another medal-less road trip to Salina.
But to call the season a failure would be a mistake, coach Bill DeWitt said. The Cardinals went 15-4 in duals this season. That is significantly better than last season's 9-9-1 dual record, 8-9 during 2004-2005, 7-12 in 2003-2004 and 6-3 in 2002-2003. Eudora also placed second in the massive Emporia tournament, as well as at Bonner Springs and its own home Tournament of Champions.
DeWitt said the whole season should not be defined by a poor state showing, given all of Eudora's accomplishments and continued improvement.
"At first, it kind of felt like somebody kicked my dog," DeWitt said. "But that's the way things go sometimes. Looking at everything, we did fairly well. Right before winter break, we took second in the Emporia tournament. I thought that was pretty spectacular."
What DeWitt said he was most pleased with was the team's steady and solid improvement over the past few seasons, a climb which reached an exciting new high this season and set a competitive standard for the coming years.
It's a standard the team may be hard pressed to match even next season, however, with seven seniors, all with winning records, graduating.
DeWitt said 152-pound David Westerhouse, who went 25-20 for the season and was just one win away from making it to state; Michael Whitten at 135 pounds, 31-17; three-time state wrestler Tim Durkin, 35-7; 145-pound Kyle Scrimsher, 26-18; Loni Ogden at 171 pounds, 24-12; 140-pound Matt McPeek 29-13; and rookie state heavyweight wrestler Richard Wilks, 19-18 all contributed invaluably to the team.
Regardless of all the seniors DeWitt is losing, he said he's not without some upcoming power wrestlers. Junior state wrestlers Travis Clarke, who went 38-10 at 130 pounds during the 2006-2007 season; 160-pound Jake Love, 37-13; and Frontier League champion Evan Meyers at 189 pounds, 34-9 will help the team considerably next season. Freshman 103-pound Cody Salzman, juniors Chase Rust at 160 pounds and Gage Ham at 145 pounds will also positively affect the team next year, DeWitt said.
"Filling the shoes is going to be hard," DeWitt said. "It's going to be weird in the wrestling room because I'm used to seeing the seniors. But I've got some junior varsity wrestlers that will be ready to step up. We're going to have a few more stellar individuals."
A problem that has been bothering DeWitt for some time is the lack of offseason practice. He said that if his wrestlers did some more work during the offseason, they would be better prepared for the tough competition at the state and regional tournaments.
But DeWitt said he expected that to change this year. He is actively looking for a place where the team can always have a mat down for impromptu practice matches during the summer and fall.
With several strong wrestlers stepping up and offseason work to look forward to, DeWitt said he was excited about the potential for next season.
"I love seeing the growth of kids," DeWitt said. "I'm excited to see what the three state qualifiers are going to do as seniors next year. We also have some really good freshmen coming up.
"The future is bright for Eudora wrestling."