3 Bobcats headed to state
The season ended for most of the Basehor-Linwood High School wrestlers at the regional tournament at Hiawatha High School last weekend. But three Bobcats will be going on to represent the school on the state's biggest stage this weekend.
Zach Davis, Cody Bell and Ryan Heffley all continued their standout seasons last weekend, earning high enough places at the regionals to qualify for the state tournament in Wichita. Davis took second place, while Bell and Heffley both took third.
The trio remained Basehor's stalwart stars, but the rest of the wrestlers also performed admirably in their last matches of the year. Peter Brown, Kyle Speichinger, Andy Call and Zach Stahl all picked up one victory before being eliminated.
"Even though they didn't qualify, they showed continual improvement over the year," coach Scott Neil said. "We were hoping to get a couple more to qualify, but we knew it was unlikely."
But Heffley and Bell are the only wrestlers who will graduate this year, leaving the others with another chance next year.
"I expect quite a bit next year," Neil said. "Everyone seems pretty interested in working in the off-season, and we should see big improvement next year if everything falls into place."
For now Neil is concentrating on getting Davis, Heffley and Bell ready for the next step. The state tournament is nothing new for Bell, who went in his freshman and sophomore years and would have gone last year but barely missed his weight limit.
Bell nearly suffered another setback this year in the regional tournament. He had to settle for third place after taking a defeat earlier for a questionable unnecessary roughness call that sent his opponent diving to the mat and claiming injury.
"He did absolutely nothing wrong, I looked at the tape," Neil said. "There's no doubt in my mind that Cody would have won if not for that ludicrous call."
Neil added that he had sent a copy of the tape to the state high school association for review.
The discouraging defeat meant that Bell had to fight his way through the loser's bracket, where just one slipup could have meant the end of his season.
"It just motivated me a little more," Bell said. "It was a little frustrating, but I couldn't let it bother me, I just had to keep my head up."
"In Cody's defense, he handled it a lot better than most would, and I had some other coaches come up to me and say the same thing," Neil said. "Cody didn't let it get to him, and no one was even close to him when he came through on the backside."
Indeed, Bell cruised through the loser's bracket, defeating Lansing's Sean Flynn for third place.
Heffley also had an easy time of it in the consolation round, pinning Baldwin's Adan Canterbury in the second round. Davis took on all comers early, winning his first three matches before falling to Lansing's Kyle Buehler in the championship.
"Zach wrestled one of his best matches in the semifinals, but I think he was a little intimidated in the finals," Neil said.
Davis will have his chance to make up for that this weekend, as he, Heffley and Bell will try to finish out the season strong.
"After regionals you get rejuvenated because you're excited about going to state," Heffley said. "I'm a little nervous because it's a big tournament, but I think I can place there."
Bell agreed that fatigue wouldn't be a factor.
"I don't really want to see the season be over, because it's my last year," Bell said. "I set some goals when I was a freshman. One of them was to place at state all four years, but another one was to be state champion."
Bell will have his last chance to fulfill that goal this weekend.
Friday's action kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday's matches will also begin at 9 a.m. with the finals scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.