Bobcats take fourth
Bell, Buck crowned Kaw Valley League wrestling champions
Thus far in Basehor-Linwood's wrestling season, the Bobcats have done little to fulfill expectations.
Basehor-Linwood coach Scott Neil said they have made a lot of progress in the last two weeks to change that trend.
The Bobcats placed fourth at the Kaw Valley League wrestling tournament, Saturday, Feb. 15, not quite as high as Neil had hoped, but his team showed marked signs of improvement.
"We wrestled a lot better today," Neil said. "We dropped a couple matches we should have won, but we won a lot of good matches, too. The team is supporting each other well and competing hard.
"We wrestled well, but we don't have enough guys," he said. "I was hoping for third, but our clip was empty."
The changes in the Bobcats' performances have led to more success.
While the team is now down to only nine members after further defections, Neil is convinced the nine that remain are quality.
Six of those nine wrestlers received medals at the league tournament at Piper High School.
Brandon Buck and Cody Bell became league champions. Seniors Tim Morgan and Albert King took second while Senior Jeff Lackner and freshman Zach Davis took third.
Buck possibly had the most compelling matchup of the day in his championship match. He faced Santa Fe Trail's Justin Wiscombe.
The two had faced twice earlier in the year, each winning once. Buck lost to Wiscombe in the championship of the Bobcat Classic and beat him during a dual, Thursday, Feb. 13.
As of Feb. 7, Wiscombe was ranked fourth in the state and Buck was fifth according to the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association.
The two met for the third time this season at the Kaw Valley League tournament with bragging rights and regional and state seedings on the line.
Buck took a different strategy against Wiscombe than in their first meeting.
"I was more aggressive," Buck said. "I banged his head more and took him out of his match."
Buck was on the attack frequently in the match even after gaining a 2-0 lead with 51 seconds left in the first period.
In a furious exchange at the edge of the mat, Buck snuck behind Wiscombe to take the 2-0 lead that turned out to be enough to win.
Wiscombe escaped late in the first to make the score 2-1, but he would not score again.
Buck won the match 6-1.
"The win did boost my confidence," Buck said. "I've never been beaten twice by the same guy, and I have proven that. Losing makes me train harder."
Bell was the favorite to win his weight division as the KWCA ranked him first in the state. He held true to the ranking, but Neil said he was skeptical of such rankings.
"I'm not too big on rankings," Neil said. "They're a distraction and get into the kids' heads. Right now, I have mixed opinions about it.
"Cody has the tools, but I don't know if he's wrestling like the best wrestler in the state," he said.
Bell pinned his first two opponents on his way to the championship match. Once there, he jumped out to a big lead, putting Bonner Springs' Erick Ratliff on his back for much of the match.
He won by decision, 14-7.
"Cody did a good job," Neil said. "He got himself into trouble a couple times, but he's good enough to get out of those bad situations."
Morgan and King were both in the finals but lost their matches.
Morgan fell behind early, 5-0, in the first period to Bonner Springs' Matt Middleton, and the bell saved him while his back was to the mat.
In the second period, Morgan chose an optional start, allowing Middleton to escape, but Morgan did not move away. Middleton turned, and took Morgan down.
Soon afterwards, Middleton pinned Morgan.
Morgan had his hands full with Middleton, but he is not 100 percent from a neck injury he suffered earlier in the year.
"Tim's not wrestling to his full potential, yet," Neil said.
King was overmatched by his championship opponent, Lansing's Troy Medill.
King came out aggressive, but the second-ranked Medill caught King in a headlock and quickly pinned him.
Despite the loss, Neil was happy with King's progress.
"Albert is beginning to wrestle really well," Neil said. "For the last five to six matches he has gotten a lot better."
In the consolation finals, Davis pinned his opponent in the first period, and Lackner won, 12-2.
The next action for the Bobcats is regionals when they travel to Royal Valley, Saturday, Feb. 22.
The top four placers in each weight will advance to the state tournament in Wichita.
"We're ready for regionals," Neil said. "I hope to take six or seven guys to state."
He said Buck, Bell, Morgan, King, Lackner and Davis could go to state. He said he also expects senior Sean Wells to rebound and compete for a spot at state.