The Final Bell
BLHS senior closes career with fourth-place state medal
The Basehor-Linwood High School wrestling season ended last weekend with three Bobcats competing at the state tournament in Wichita.
Cody Bell led the team as he had all season, earning a medal with a 4-2 performance and a fourth place finish. Bell's fellow senior Ryan Heffley finished 0-2 in his first trip to state, while sophomore Zach Davis finished 1-2 in his second trip.
Davis finished the year 20-15, including a 6-2 victory over Goodland junior Chad Mormandin in the first round of the tournament on Friday. Davis went on to lose to Isaac Wall of Andover and Lakin Dreiling of Scott City, who would both finish in the top five at the tournament's end.
With two more years of high school wrestling ahead of him, Davis vowed to be back in Wichita in the future.
For Heffley the state tournament was the culmination of a surprisingly dominant year. In just his second year of competitive wrestling the senior finished the season with a 28-9 record.
At state he went the full three rounds against Andover's Steve Stewart and Prairie View's Darrell Kimzey, but lost both matches.
"It was about what I expected, I just didn't wrestle very well," Heffley said. "I met most of my goals this year, I just got a little nervous when I got here."
Was wrestling in front of throngs of fans in Wichita's cavernous Kansas Coliseum a little different than wrestling in Kaw Valley League gyms?
"Yeah, just a little," Heffley said.
Bell's goal was to cap off his sterling career with a state championship. Though the real ending didn't quite live up to that, his 38-7 record and fourth place finish were hard-earned marks that most other area wrestlers would envy.
"I thought I wrestled well this year, there were just a few matches I should have won where I didn't quite live up to my potential," Bell said.
Bell spent his last two days of high school wrestling going against the state's finest. Even against that level of competition he left most of his opponents shaking their heads and wondering what went wrong.
In two days Bell beat four top-tier wrestlers with a combined record of 96-32. He said his most thrilling victory was a consolation semifinal in which he pinned Scott City's Logan Dreiling in the second round.
The one opponent Bell couldn't figure out was Ross Devoe of Columbus. Devoe was a stocky block of muscle with a 25-1 record going into the tournament; a high school senior who could have easily passed for 30 years old.
Bell lost a tightly-contested 9-7 match against Devoe in the second round and wasn't intimidated when the two were scheduled to battle for third place later in the tournament.
"I was pretty confident I could beat him the second time," Bell said. "I knew what I had to do, I just couldn't get it done."
Devoe took control early in the match with Bell spending most of the first period upside down and fighting to stay alive. Despite Devoe's quick start, Bell kept the damage minimal and trailed just 1-0 when the referee's whistle signaled the period's end.
Bell fought back at the beginning of the second period, taking control for a fleeting minute of action. Then, with a quick move, Devoe turned the tables and clamped one thick arm around Bell's neck. The Basehor senior struggled to free himself, but the move was a fatal one, and a few seconds later he was pinned.
Still, Bell was the undisputed leader of the Bobcats all year, a steadying force in a lineup of youngsters.
The departure of Bell and Heffley leaves the team's success in the hands of Davis, Dustin Weimer, Todd Bell and Basehor's other promising underclassmen.
The team will still have the guidance of coach Scott Neil and assistant Travis Phippen, whom Cody Bell credited as a great workout partner this year. And though Bell will be gone, the Basehor wrestlers will be better for having learned from him this season.