Bobcats place a pair at KVL wrestling tourney
With the season coming to a close, the Basehor-Linwood wrestling team showed enough highlights Saturday at the Kaw Valley League Tournament at Mill Valley to promise a prosperous future.
The Bobcats placed two wrestlers as Andrew Stueckemann took third in the 189-pound bracket and Martin Buck secured a third-place finish at 125.
Austin Call finished 1-2 in the 145-pound bracket. The remaining five Bobcat wrestlers failed to win a match.
"You want to do well all season, but as young as we are, I am happy," BLHS coach Scott Neil said. "We are a little inconsistent. I am pretty happy. I think they are coming along.
"I think they have a long ways to go. They are young, and they have plenty of time. It's hard to tell right now. We talk about getting over those freshman jitters and competing with the best in the state and not worrying about records."
The tournament was a double-elimination format.
Buck received a first-round bye. In the second round, he was paired with Ian Seaton of Bonner Springs. Buck admitted later that he didn't wrestle with confidence, and he was defeated. Seaton went on to win the bracket.
"I thought he wrestled well, except for his first match," Neil said. "I thought Martin went out there a little bit passive against him; he didn't go after him like he should have. It was kind of a difficult bracket."
"After that loss he wrestled really well. He got back to the old Martin and wrestled his way."
Buck considered confidence to be the key against Seaton.
"Don't be scared like I was my last one," Buck said. "He was a senior and I am a freshman, but that isn't a big deal for me. That shouldn't matter. We're both in high school; it's just the way it is. I just wasn't confident in anything. I just need to get focused."
Buck hunkered down and defeated Matt Korte of Mill Valley in the next round. The win helped spur Buck to his third- place finish.
Despite his own success, Buck was disappointed by his team's finish.
"We are behind Bishop Ward, and we beat them pretty bad in the duals," Buck said. "I guess everybody just needs to step up. We work pretty hard in practice, but I think most of it is confidence, going out there and working hard during the match."
Neil believes the only thing holding Buck back from being an elite wrestler is mindset.
"Martin has got to come of age, he needs to mature," Neil said. "I don't think he has the confidence that he can compete with some of these other kids. He needs to have that confidence because he can. He is kind of holding himself back right now."
Austin Call's early loss inspired him to bear down for his second try.
"I wasn't focused, I didn't warm up that good," Call said of his initial defeat.
Call proceeded to beat Steven Snider of Bonner Springs before being eliminated at the hands of Dillion Freed of Perry.
Basehor-Linwood's smallest wrestler, Austin Schoepflin, has faced a tough road this season. Weighing in at 82 pounds, Schoepflin is generally the smallest wrestler on the mat. The lowest weight class is 103 pounds.
"My first match I went out there and gave it my best," Schoepflin said. "I'm 20 pounds under everyone else, so I just try my hardest. I gave it my all, so I wasn't too upset by it."
While he didn't win a match, Schoepflin was happy to be given another chance to work on his technique.
The Bobcats will now prepare for regional competition at Holton High School next weekend. The top four wrestlers in each bracket will qualify for the state tournament the following weekend, and the regional meet will be the latest in a long line of tough tournaments for the BLHS wrestlers.
"When I came to Basehor, the schedule was pretty weak," Neil said. "They saw a lot of the same teams over and over. Now you get to travel around and see other competition. We played with the schedule. I tell the kids, 'Don't expect to be an undefeated wrestler.'
"Our goal is to be ready for the state tournament and possibly win an individual state championship. We try to get them the really tough competition. I just don't think it does you much good to have a 25-1 record and not qualify for state."