Archive for Wednesday, January 3, 2007

BLHS wrestlers battling through adversity

January 3, 2007

The Basehor-Linwood wrestling team has gotten off to an interesting start.

After decent performances in its first two meets -- combining for a 4-4 record -- the team has faced some adversity.

The Bobcats lone senior, Zach Stall, is shelved with a stress fracture in his arm. BLHS was also forced to back out of a meet last week, in large part because of injuries. For a young team in need of work, the past few weeks have been difficult.

"He is our team leader," coach Scott Neil said of Stall. "He brings the most experience to the team. I hate not to have him out there. He was looking forward to his senior year."

The prognosis on Stall was not great, increasing the chances that he will not wrestle at all this season. A second opinion might be sought before a final decision is made.

"The jury is still out," Neil said. "Health always comes first."

Despite the loss, the team is in a fine position heading into winter break. Neil stressed that his team just needs to focus on improving.

"We're so young," Neil said. "We have to work on it all. We've been working hard on our takedowns and our feet. We're not very strong in those two areas and you have to be strong in them in this sport. You have to be able to take someone down and avoid getting taken down."

The coach also stressed an increased emphasis on conditioning.

"In our first year, we weren't in good shape," Neil said. "We're starting to work on that. We are slowly increasing conditioning as the season goes on."

Matches cannot be won merely with skill and endurance. The wrestlers have been drilled on the finer points of the sport during Neil's tenure.

"We have been working on our mental toughness," Neil said. "We are teaching strategy on the mat. Some young kids don't understand that there is strategy to the sport. It isn't just takedowns. You have to get your opponent into your mode of wrestling."

Austin Call, a second-year wrestler, has made strides.

"He is wrestling better and working harder," Neil said.

The coach has also been pleasantly surprised with the development of Dylan Blanchard.

"Dylan has shown me some stuff in practice that I haven't seen before, and I am expecting him to turn it on later," Neil said.

Next week will mark a return to action for the Bobcats. They will be hosting Tonganoxie in Basehor.

"They are a little more experienced than us," Neil said. "They are older and more mature. I think if we wrestle well, we can pull off a win. Our lighter weight kids will have to step up and wrestle well."

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