Lions place second at Baldwin Invitational
Caton dominates the field at 152 pounds
Baldwin The Lansing High wrestling team no longer is undefeated, and neither are three LHS wrestlers who took perfect records into Saturday's Baldwin Invitational Tournament.
Ultimately, that's not a big deal to LHS coach Ron Averill. If the Lions approach the losses correctly, he said they would help them improve for their matches at regionals and the Class 5A state meet.
"Anything you get out of here, you have to make it into a positive, whether it's a win or a loss," Averill said. "A lot of times, the fact of the matter is it takes a loss to really get you pumped up and refocused. A lot of times that's the best thing that could happen to you.
"We don't ever want to take a loss, but if we can take a loss and use it to our advantage, that's what we have to do."
Fortunately for Lansing, its first non-victory of the year in the team standings didn't come because it had a bad day. Instead, it came to the toughest team LHS has faced all season - nationally-ranked Oak Park (Mo.).
Oak Park won the team title with 459.5 points, Lansing was second with 319 and Abilene placed third with 256. Baldwin (255.5) and Santa Fe Trail (252) rounded out the top five at the 11-team tournament.
Averill said that Saturday's tournament featured the toughest competition Lansing would see before regionals and state.
"We knew the Eudora Tournament was pretty big too," Averill said, noting the tournament his squad won on Dec. 10. "But with the Oak Park's, the Abilene's, and the Santa Fe Trail's, this was a pretty dang tough little tournament, so it was impressive to be able to get in here and compete the way we did and pull off some of the wins that we did along the way just to get into those finals matches."
In all, it was an all-around solid day for the Lions. They had 11 wrestlers place in the top four in their respective weight classes. Six Lions advanced to the finals. One LHS wrestler - junior Casey Caton - emerged as a champion. Caton won all five of his matches Saturday, including a 13-3 whipping of Santa Fe Trail's Josh Connelly in the 152-pound finals.
"The way that Casey came in here and competed, he just keeps getting better and better," Averill said.
The other five LHS wrestlers who advanced to the finals were sophomore Nick Flynn (130 pounds), junior Kyle Buehler (135), senior Sean Flynn (140), junior Kyle Grape (145) and senior Ryan Civils (189). All five placed second and all five were defeated by wrestlers from Oak Park.
Buehler dropped a 10-5 decision to Cadet All-American Dylan Joiner and Sean Flynn lost 12-4 to David Weber. The losses were the first of the year for both Buehler and Flynn. Both were 29-0 entering the finals.
In the other finals, Nick Flynn was defeated 25-8 by five-time Cadet national champion Scott O'Donnell. Grape dropped a 7-6 decision to national champion and two-time Missouri state champion Shane Nay. Civils lost, 6-4, to Kolton Kono.
Other high placers for Lansing were sophomore Dennis Wood (fourth at 103), senior Lance Fink (fourth at 160), senior Dennis Kessler (third at 171), senior Logan Ryan (third at 215) and sophomore Brad Terron (fourth at 275).
Other finishers for Lansing were sophomore Chance Thackston (fifth at 119), freshman Wes Appleget (eighth at 125), senior Jeff Terrill (eighth at 145) and senior Jordan Pratt (seventh at 171).
"We were a little frustrated with the finals situation," Averill said. "But throughout the day it was very impressive to get 11 guys in the top four in this tournament. I was pleased that we were able to come in here and step on the mat and compete at the level we were able to compete and to get ourselves into that position. I would have liked to have seen us compete a little closer in a few of the finals matches, but all the way through it was a solid performance so I can't be real dissatisfied with that.
"The one thing I am encouraged about is we got a chance to see these guys in top-notch competition. We've been able to see them win, we've been able to see them lose, and through it all we've been able to see some things we need to work on and clean up. (We can) really focus on those things and to carry us on through the state tournament."
Lansing returns to the mat for a triple-dual at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Tonganoxie against Mill Valley, Bonner Springs and Tonganoxie. That will close out the Kaw Valley League dual season.
"I hope we can finish out our dual season undefeated," Averill said of his squad's 13-0 dual record this year. "That's our goal, but we'll see."
To read more about Lansing High junior wrestler Casey Caton's resurgence this year, pick up the Feb. 2 edition of The Current.