Basehor-Linwood freshmen savor taste of the big time
Martin Buck and Joe Johnson traveled to Salina over the weekend having already accomplished their goals. As freshman, the two Basehor-Linwood wrestlers had defied the odds to advance into the post-season tournament.
Buck and Johnson fought nerves and inexperience on their first trip to state. Buck finished 1-2 on the day in the 125-pound bracket, Johnson 0-2 in the 119-pound bracket.
The trip has only motivated the duo to work harder to return.
"It was a really great experience, I got see a lot of great wrestlers from around Kansas that are among the best," Johnson said. "It is a really great tournament. I want to go there at least two more times. It would be a great honor to go all four years, and hopefully place one year."
Buck lost his first match of Friday to eventual state champion Cameron Jesseph of Chanute.
"I didn't know he would be the state champ, so I didn't go in thinking about that," Buck said. "It was close through the first two periods. As soon as I backed off, he got ahead. He was real strong and real fast."
Buck pinned his second opponent, Leo Flores of Hugoton, before being defeated by Kerek Mason of Goodland.
Johnson admitted that he was wrestling distracted on Friday.
"I wrestled bad," Johnson said. "I wasn't really focused at all. I was just thinking about other things; my parents, school and grades. I kept thinking, 'Wow, I just made it as a freshman!' I was really nervous before the first match. My dad told me it was OK and calmed me down."
Johnson's first-round opponent, Zach Jesseph of Chanute, finished third.
"He was pretty tough," Johnson said. "He was four to five pounds bigger than me. He was better than me. Everybody that beats me, I want a rematch with them."
The boys stayed overnight in a Holiday Inn Express on Friday. Johnson spent the night in frustration.
"I was kind of mad, because I should have won in my second match," Johnson said.
Buck was happy with his first wrestling season in high school.
"It was a good one for me," Buck said. "I had a weight class everyday, I ran after practice. I worked real hard and it was a good season for me."
Johnson battled illness during the end of the season, but persevered to become a surprise entrant into the state competition.
"At the beginning of the season I was doing pretty good," Johnson said. "Towards the end, I got sick, and I was out for a long part of the season. I was out of school. The first tournament back was regionals, and I didn't think I would make state but I did. It shows that no matter what the record is, you can still make it."
While the season is over, both boys plan to work extensively before their sophomore seasons begin. Both plan to hit the weight room as well as polish their wrestling skills while taking part in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.