Wrestlers scrap for second place in Baldwin’s inaugural invitational
The Tonganoxie High School wrestling team keeps finding itself in the same place second.
The Chieftains nabbed the runner-up placing at the Baldwin Invitational on Saturday the same spot THS notched in its previous two tournaments.
But this time, Tonganoxie coach Bill DeWitt was unsure where his team would land at the tournament's conclusion.
Ross Starcher (26-3) and Steve Adcox (23-4) paced Tonganoxie with first-place finishes in the unconventional tournament that guaranteed wrestlers five matches. Wrestlers usually compete in two to three matches in most tournaments, and the point system proved confusing, DeWitt said.
"I had a B in college calculus, but I had no idea what was going on," DeWitt said. "I don't know if they had a statistician hiding somewhere.
"I've never been to a tournament where there was scoring like that."
Wrestlers were divided into pools of five wrestlers, and teams earned points as they would in a dual. Once wrestlers advanced to tournament play, point amounts increased, for example, to 16 points for first and 12 for second. DeWitt had trouble keeping up with the tally, but when the meet was finished, he was proud of his team.
"We certainly wrestled well," DeWitt said.
Baldwin won its inaugural tournament, scoring 386 points to Tonganoxie's 323.
"They were definitely right there on our tail," said BHS coach Kit Harris of the Chieftain's efforts. "With the scoring format we used for the tournament, you could score points quickly.
"We won five of our nine finals matches, which helped us," said Harris. "One was by a pin and that really helped out, too."
DeWitt didn't mind settling for second Saturday.
The team wrestled with two open weights and endured some injuries during the tournament.
Chad Starcher, who had a 2-0 record in the 119-pound class, met his jaw with an opponent's hip. Starcher finished the match, but withdrew from the tournament for fear of a broken jaw. X-rays, though, were negative.
"He finished with a potentially broken jaw," DeWitt said. "That's a tough kid."
Matt Weyer and Josh Ferris sprained their ankles, and Andy Koontz battled a severe headache.
"They continued to wrestle on basically one leg," DeWitt said of Weyer and Ferris. "I have to tip my hat to my kids. They're tough."
The tournament became a dual between Baldwin and Tonganoxie. In the end, though, it turned out to be Baldwin's depth that made the difference. The Bulldogs scored points in every weight class, while the Chieftains had to deal with open weight classes.
"Baldwin was full up, so they had the advantage," DeWitt said.
Royal Valley, which defeated THS in a dual Dec.6, tied for third with Kansas City-Sumner at 311 points. Marysville (261) took fourth, while Council Grove (207) was fifth.
Olathe North (204), Mill Valley (199), Kansas City Ward (174), Lansing (139) and Immaculata (0) rounded out the bottom five.
Baldwin had three individual champions in Joe Bonner at 103 pounds, Derek Lang (140) and Witt Hinton (275).
Local wrestlers taking second place were Tonganoxie's Koontz (103) and Ferris (125); Baldwin's Wayne Sage (119), Adam Halford (160), Kyle Flory (171) and Dan Hamilton (215); and Mill Valley's Eric Pingleton (189);
Finishing third were Mill Valley's Aaron Gladfelder (103); Baldwin's Luke Halford (145) and Chris Hirschmann (152); and Tonganoxie's James Hartshorn (215).
Fourth-place finishers included: Mill Valley's Ryan Ray (119); Tonganoxie's Lance Thompson (130) and Pat Weyer (160).
Other Baldwin finishers were: Josh Kohn, seventh (112); Nathan Deel, sixth (125); Steve Hamilton, fifth (130); Matt Gammon, fifth (135); and Seth Halford, eighth (189).
Other Tonganoxie finishers were: Chad Starcher, seventh (119); Garrett Palmer, seventh (135); Jerry Hartshorn, seventh (140); Matt Weyer, sixth (171); and Andrew Miller, fifth (189).
Tonganoxie's finishes in some of the lower places was also key to their finish, DeWitt said.
"Andrew Miller's weight class was brutal, but he was able to get fifth," DeWitt said. "People don't realize what it means. Fifth and sixth place finishes are important also."
Baldwin's Harris was pleased with how the tournament went in its first year. Some teams that entered either didn't have a tournament during the weekend or canceled to participate in the first-ever event.
"I think it went tremendously well, considering it was our first year," he said. "We feel it will be even better next year. It was a good turnout."
Tonganoxie will participate in its last dual of the year Parent's Night on Thursday at home. The Chieftains take on Mill Valley and Lansing at 5:30 p.m.