Five Bobcats headed to Wichita for state wrestling tourney
Before Basehor-Linwood went to Royal Valley for regional wrestling, head coach Scott Neil predicted six of his wrestlers would advance to state.
He was off by one, as only five Bobcat wrestlers qualified for state.
The one missing from that list was junior Cody Bell. Bell, ranked first in state at 112 pounds, was one of the most likely Bobcats to advance to state, but he did not have the chance to compete for a spot.
Following the quarterfinal matches, wrestlers have one hour to make weight again. Bell did not reach weight in time, so tournament officials disqualified him, ending his run to state.
"This hurts big time," Neil said. "I'm not mad at him, but I am disappointed that he is missing an opportunity like this. He'll look back on this knowing he made a mistake. It'll never happen again. If there's a positive, he's only a junior."
Bell's disqualification will cost the Bobcats about 25 team points at state, Neil said.
"Before, I thought we might sneak into third or fourth," Neil said. "That was an optimistic goal. We'd have to get help from other teams and wrestle extremely well. Now, a realistic goal is to finish in the top 10, eighth, ninth or 10th."
Overall, though, Neil was pleased with Basehor-Linwood's performance at the regional tournament. He only took seven other wrestlers to Royal Valley, and five of them placed. With so few wrestlers, the team still finished in sixth place in the 15-team tournament.
Freshman Zach Davis and seniors Brandon Buck and Tim Morgan left with regional championships.
Senior Albert King was regional runner up and senior Jeff Lackner finished fourth.
"I was very, very happy with the way we wrestled," Neil said. "We went in there and proved we deserved the seeds we had."
King did the most to improve upon his seeding, which was not a surprise to Neil. He came in seeded sixth in the regional but finished second.
"Albert didn't have the record (12-6) we could argue to get him seeded higher," Neil said. "His losses were quality losses. We wanted to get him in the lower half of the bracket, so the sixth seed is what we wanted.
"When the bracket came out, there was no doubt in my mind he was going to be in the finals. He is peaking at the right time."
King said his success did not come as a surprise to him either.
"I wrestled really well until the championship match," King said. "I choked or something, but I went out there expecting to win. It's pretty tough against an opponent like that."
Buck breezed through his way to the finals. In the championship match, Buck faced undefeated freshman, Jesse Strawn from Holton.
The match was as intense as any during the tournament. Buck eventually won with a takedown in overtime, 8-6.
"He's a lot different than wrestlers I've faced before," Buck said. "He's tall and long, flexible. He didn't look that good, but when you wrestle him, he's a lot better than he looks."
Buck is one of the favorites to win state at 152, but the list of favorites is a long one. Coaches around the state have said Buck's weight class will have the fiercest competition.
"Who knows about that bracket," Neil said. "It's so tough. You can get first or not even place. One mistake will hurt.
"All of Brandon's three losses come from wrestlers on his side of the bracket."
Davis and Morgan, Basehor-Linwood's other two regional champions, have a good chance at placing at state, Neil said. Neil said Davis is wrestling well, and he could take home a medal as a freshman.
This will be Morgan's fourth year at state, but he is still searching for a medal. Neil said he expects Morgan to come home with a medal this year.
Lackner is also optimistic about his chances. He will have a tough opening round match. Because he took fourth, he will face a champion of another regional.
He said he could win the opening match, but if he does not, he plans to earn some points on the backside of the bracket.
The first round of state will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 28, at the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita.