BLHS freshman becomes school’s first-ever Bobcat Classic champ
Never in the 13-year history of the Bobcat Classic had a Basehor-Linwood wrestler claimed an individual title. Corbin Nirschl needed just one high school season to change that fact.
Nirschl, a freshman and Class 4A's top-ranked 106-pounder, went 5-0 and became the school's first-ever champion of the 14th annual tournament. He sealed the deal with a 9-8 victory against one of the top wrestlers in the country in Platte County (Mo.) sophomore Matthew Schmitt
Nirschl went 4-0 in Friday's opener, setting up a finals showdown with Schmitt. Schmitt, currently ranked in the top 10 nationally, grabbed a 6-2 lead early in the match, but Nirschl battled back to force an 8-8 tie. In an attempt to set up a takedown opportunity, Schmitt gave Nirschl a one-point escape — and a 9-8 lead — at the start of the final period. Nirschl fended his opponent off for the remainder of the match, and the home crowd erupted as time expired.
"I had to just keep wrestling and try to keep my head together," said Nirschl, who did a celebratory somersault after getting his hand raised. "I was in the finals, so I had nothing else to lose. I really didn't want to come in second."
With the win, Nirschl improved to a perfect 15-0 in his first high school season. The loss was the first of the year for Schmitt, who entered the match at 31-0.
Despite the long layover — wrestlers in the finals had to wait for all consolation and cross-bracketing to be completed before they could compete — coach Tyler Cordts said Nirschl's focus was never a cause for concern.
"He was ready to go all day, and we knew he was where he needed to be to get there," Cordts said. "He was confident in his abilities, and he never once questioned them."
Seniors John Hopper (152 pounds) and Cory McCleary (160) also earned spots on the awards podium, finishing fifth in their respective weight classes. Each wrestler suffered losses in Friday's quarterfinals, but won their Saturday openers to stave off elimination and ensure themselves top-eight finishes.
Both seniors won their first two matches Saturday before falling in the consolation semifinals, then won by injury default in their respective fifth-place matches.
"Cory and Johnny really helped out team point-wise. They both had a rough spot in the day, but they both bounced back and set their goals. That's a tough day to come back on Saturday and wrestle four times. They were beaten up and tired, but they certainly did it."
As a team, the Bobcats placed 11 out of 35 squads with 85.5 points. The 11th-place finish marked a significant improvement from last year's 32nd-place effort. St. James Academy won the team title with 209 points.
BLHS will try to keep the ball rolling Saturday when it travels to Paola for a one-day tournament. The field is comprised of schools ranging from Class 3-1A to 6A.
"It doesn't get easier for us, especially now that the expectation is to keep winning," Cordts said. "We had a great weekend, but it's time to focus on the next thing."