Paola Before last weekend's wrestling tournament at Phillipsburg, Kyle Patton's most recent loss had been during his sophomore season at the Frontier League meet.
The Wellsville senior was 24-0 this season. Then came along a freshman who pulled off the unfathomable -- pasting Patton 8-3.
"It hurt a lot," Patton said of his first loss in two years. "But it wasn't the end of the world."
And Hoxie's Tyler Baker wasn't your average freshman.
Baker was ranked fourth heading into his match against top-ranked Patton. He also is a devoted pupil to Kirk Baker, who not only happens to be his dad but also is the head coach at wrestling-rich Hoxie High School.
"Those western Kansas kids are good," Patton said. "I'm use to wrestling these kids that are from around the city. They must all work on farms out there, because they sure are tough."
But so is Patton. A couple of weeks before his last loss in February 2001, Patton was also pounded in Phillipsburg by a wrestler from Norton.
But Patton planned his revenge and pulled it off when he beat the same wrestler for the first of his back-to-back state titles.
Saturday it seemed Patton brought newfound motivation to the Frontier League meet.
"I really hadn't been challenged all year until Phillipsburg," said Patton, who cruised through three matches Saturday on his way to the 119-pound title. "It definitely provided motivation for me."
That was evident as Patton dominated during his final. He was ahead of Osawatomie's Brent Sinclair 12-1, when he finally pinned him with 43 seconds left in the second period.
"I want to meet back up with Baker at state," said a determined Patton, who might get to wrestle Baker at the Class 3-2-1A tournament in Hays Feb. 28 and March 1.
"Today was a good preparation for those last two weeks, and hopefully things will work out where I see him again in the finals."
Patton wasn't the only Eagle to do well for Wellsville Saturday, as four of its five wrestlers made it to the finals. But it was Baldwin that had the best day among area teams.
The Bulldogs scored 114 points and took third behind Anderson County and Frontier League champ Paola, which scored 153. Eudora finished seventh with 82 points. Wellsville was eighth with 74.
Baldwin had three wrestlers in the finals and four more make the consolation finals.
Baldwin's biggest moment came when junior Kyle Flory handed Paola's Nate Payne his second loss of the season in the 171-pound final.
Flory (32-6) trailed Payne, 24-2, by three points heading into the final period, although Baldwin coach Kit Harris was disappointed that a referee allowed Payne a quick escape point as the buzzer sounded to close the second period.
Still, Flory scored a takedown 30 seconds into the third to make it 5-4.
Neither wrestler found much room for maneuvering in the next minute and 20 seconds. But Flory hit the floor in the final 10 ticks, scoring another takedown and holding on for a 6-5 victory over the defending 160-pound state champ in 5A.
"That was the best match of the day," Harris said. "It was a big, big win for Kyle."
Baldwin 103-pounder Mark Jehle lost to Eudora's Andy Coffman 14-1 in their final, and Bulldog Derek Lang squeezed out a 3-2 win over Paola's Jimmy Stewart at 160 pounds.
Baldwin's Joe Bonner, Steve Hamilton, Dan Hamilton and Sam Coffey all finished fourth in their respective weight classes.
Eudora's Mike Paxton (215 pounds) and Shane Grant (275) both finished second, while James Barr took third at 160.
Wellsville's Todd Roberts won at 189, while Cody Gardner (112) and Chris Caruthers (125) each took second and 103-pound Nate Whalen finished fourth.