BLHS wrestlers take their lumps, keep fighting
The Basehor-Linwood wrestling team is short on experience and size. Last weekend at the Dick Burns Tournament in Bonner Springs, it cost them.
"We saw very limited success last weekend and I was pretty disappointed that we didn't have any kids medal at this tournament," BLHS coach Scott Neil said. "I think our youth and our weight got the better of us. I had hoped that we might be coming around in a few weight classes by now, but we are not."
Austin Call and Andrew Stueckemann were tops among Bobcat wrestlers at the tournament, both finishing 2-2. Call was wrestling in the 145-pound weight class and Stueckemann at 189.
BLHS finished with a combined mark of 8-18.
Despite the showing, the Bobcats coach is trying to remain upbeat.
"I guess more than anything I'm trying to be optimistic about our chances at this point," Neil said. "But I think realistically it might be closer to the end of the year before we see the improvement that I had hoped for by now."
BLHS will use this tournament as a learning tool. Neil believes his team is now more equipped to choose which wrestlers should be allotted into specific weight classes.
"I wasn't totally discouraged by our performance," Neil said. "I did see some improvements in some areas of our wrestling. On the positive side, this tournament opened our eyes to what weight we need to wrestle at. Some of our kids are just wrestling too heavy. I've tried not to dwell too much on weight loss this year because I don't want our kids so focused on losing weight that they sacrifice learning."
Neil's faith in his wrestlers remains strong. Despite the rocky start to the season and the presence of several key injuries including the team's only senior, Zach Stall, sidelined with a stress fractured arm, Neil sees great potential in his current group.
"I still stand by my earlier statements about these kids," Neil said. "They are going to be good wrestlers, but it is going to take more time than I expected to get to the level I want them at."
Neil has nothing but respect for his young wrestlers. They have earned it by not giving up despite a frequent disadvantage in size and experience.
"At this point in the season I'm proud of these young kids," Neil said. "It gets pretty tough at times to keep going out there on the mat and getting manhandled by older kids, but to the credit of these kids they have stuck with it and they keep trying to get better everyday in practice. So right now we have to learn how to take our lumps before we give them.
"It is just a right of passage as most wrestlers will tell you."
Next up for the Bobcats is their own tournament, the Bobcat Classic. For more, see story on Page 2B.