Basehor-Linwood coaches prepare to host Bobcat Classic tourney
Basehor-Linwood athletic director Joe Keeler will not wrestle a match on Friday or Saturday. He won't coach either, but his fingerprints will be on everything at the Bobcat Classic, which begins at 1 p.m. Friday at Basehor-Linwood High School.
The tournament is Keeler's pet project.
A project that brings 30 teams to Basehor for two days and it is something he has helped run since its inception eight years ago.
Keeler was an assistant principal at Basehor-Linwood High School when the new school was built.The school had a nice new gymnasium and officials wanted to showcase it with top high school athletic events.
They wanted to have a wrestling tournament that would bring in top talent from around the state.
Keeler went to work recruiting teams to compete in the tournament from around the state.
The first year they had 20 teams entered in it.
Keeler wanted to treat them the best he could. He set up a top-notch hospitality room and brought enlisted the volunteers to make it all work.
The tournament has had the same person run its hospitality room since it started in 1999. Mary Meyer has run the show since it started and feeds full meals through both days of the tournament to coaches and staff.
"We have had great people, this is not possible without the people," Keeler said.
"Oh, it is great for our school and our community. We are proud of it. It gives us an opportunity to showcase what Basehor is all about. A lot of people in our area look forward to it."
Since its first year, the tournament has grown to 30 teams.
"We have a waiting list to get in," Keeler said.
The tournament is looked at as one of the tops in the state. The best teams come year after year and this tournament is a bit of a foreshadowing event for what might happen in regional or state competition.
The tournament features schools in classes 6A-3A and wrestlers from other stands.
St. James Academy wrestling coach Mike Medina was able to sneak Ryne Cokeley into the tournament at the 119-pound weight class. Cokeley is 14-2 this season and wanted to wrestle in the tournament because it would be a good primer for regional and state competition.
The Bobcat Classic wrestling is so good that even if he wasn't coaching, Medina would probably go.
"People will show up just to watch the finals even if they don't have a wrestler entered," Medina said. "I would go to this tournament even if I wasn't coaching."
The tournament is one of two big tournaments taking place this weekend. The other is at Newton High School.
Wrestling fans scour message boards to find out who is wrestling, who isn't and how the brackets are stacking up.
It is something that Basehor-Linwood coaches are pleased with.
"Well, we take a lot of pride in it," Keeler said. "We provide great hospitality and great competition. Those are two ingredients. People work hard to put it on, it is important to them.