Hitting the mat
Basehor-Linwood gears up for another exciting wrestling season
Scott Neil is entering his eighth year coaching the Basehor-Linwood wrestling team, but he hasn't lost much of his touch on the mat. During practice Monday, Neil wasn't afraid to use his assistants, and some of his wrestlers, to give hands-on demonstrations of drills.
Given the numbers crunch BLHS experienced last year, there were probably a few times when Neil wished he could have put himself out on the mat during competition, just to avoid some costly forfeits.
"We had a rough year last year because we never could squad a whole team," Neil said. "Head-to-head we wrestled well, but we usually had 4 to 5 forfeits because we couldn't fill weight classes."
Neil said the team had finished 4-6 in dual meets last year and the program was in a rebuilding stage, with many young wrestlers this year.
"They're young, but I like what I see so far," Neil said.
The Bobcats may not have much experience, but they have a surefire leader in senior Cody Bell.
Neil said Bell would be a preseason favorite to compete for a state championship. He also pointed to sophomore Zach Davis as a Bobcat that he had high expectations for this season.
Neil added that he wasn't able to organize some of the off-season conditioning he would have liked to this year because of driver's ed responsibilities, but added that many of the Bobcats were already in pretty good shape anyway.
"A lot of them have been out for football. It's different conditioning, but it helps," Neil said.
In addition to participating in other sports, some of the Bobcats got on the mats during the off-season and did some freestyle wrestling to prepare for the upcoming season.
That preparation may turn out to be very important, as Neil said there would be some strong programs in the Kaw Valley League this season. He cited Bonner Springs and Tonganoxie as two area teams that would be tough to beat and said that Santa Fe Trail was also likely to pose a stern challenge for everyone as well.
As always, the highlight of the season will come in mid-January, when Basehor-Linwood hosts its annual wrestling tournament, the Bobcat Classic.
The two-day tournament has quickly become one of the most competitive and well-known wrestling tournaments in the state.
Teams from all across Kansas, as well as Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, travel to Basehor for this extravaganza.
The thing that makes the event so competitive is that all classes are represented, from 3A to 6A and they compete against one another.
The event, which has grown bigger and better every year, features one of the most exciting championship introductions, complete with light show, fog machines and loud music.
Before the Bobcats host half of the state, they will dive into the season with a four-team meet on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
BLHS will host Bonner Springs, Louisburg and Piper right off the bat, diving into Kaw Valley League action and getting a tough test from the get-go.