Cardinals looking for consolation bracket help
Twenty seconds into the 103-pound championship match of the Paola High School Wrestling Invitational Saturday, it became clear that indeed, 103 pounds is where sophomore Cody Salzman belongs.
Salzman got his opponent in a head lock, worked him to his back and stuck both shoulders to the mat with one minute, 40 seconds remaining in the first round to capture a first-place medal and became the first Eudora wrestler of the year to get the gold at a tournament.
"It's great for his confidence," Cardinal coach Bill DeWitt said. "Once he got down to 103, for the first time he realized he had some size on some kids, and now he can really use his technique to his advantage."
The team finished tied for seventh with Mill Valley on the day, with seniors Travis Clarke and Evan Meyers both adding second-place finishes. Eudora scored 72 points as a team, trailing the top team, Great Bend, by 78 points.
Salzman appeared in control all day, easily winning his first match, 14-0, before pinning his final two opponents, both in the first period.
The only negative thing DeWitt took from the tournament was that his squad didn't have enough wrestlers coming back through the consolation side of the bracket to get medals.
"First place tells you who the best was that day, and what third place tells you is who was the toughest that day," DeWitt said. "To lose, then fight back through the back side shows who's toughest. Some of those kids have to get tougher, and a lot of that's mental."
DeWitt said to foster the right attitude and teach mental toughness, he'd put kids in match situations in practice designed to make them fight through fatigue.
He also said, as a team, conditioning was right were it needs to be, but that the toughness has more to do with the mental aspect. When kids get knocked out of the main bracket they have to realize, he said, it's a long road back to the medal stand and they need to be willing to scrap their way back into contention.
"When we do that, we'll score a lot more on the backside," DeWitt said. "Really, that's the only concern I had."
Meyers was closest to joining Salzman atop the medal stand, but got caught in a cradle with 30 seconds left in the second period and was pinned by the number 1-ranked wrestler in 6A at 189 pounds, Shawnee Mission East's Matt Baker.
"Evan made one mistake, and he knew it afterwards," DeWitt said. "We knew he liked to run cradles and he got Evan into a really good cradle."
Clarke trailed 3-1 to Shawnee Mission East's Joey Lutz, the fifth-ranked wrestler in 6A at 140 pounds, in the first quarter. Then Lutz registered a couple of takedowns and the match got away from Clarke, as he eventually lost 15-2.
"They wrestled okay," DeWitt said of the two seniors. "We just have to keep sawing wood."
Juniors Jackson Wiley and Max Campbell, at 119 and 135, and seniors Gage Ham and Jake Love, at 152 and 160, respectively, all were unable to come through the consolation bracket and place among the tournament's top four.
Wiley just missed medaling when he was pinned with 1:18 left in the second period, one round shy of a medal.
It was the same story for Love, who won two matches in the consolation bracket before losing 10-3 to a Mill Valley opponent.
Next up for the Cardinals wrestlers is a trip to Concordia. They will compete in an eight-team dual tournament Friday and Saturday, meaning they'll wrestle seven times in two days.
"That'll tell these kids exactly where their at," DeWitt said. "There will be a lot of tough teams. We're a good team, too, but we could wrestle well and finish eighth."