Archive for Sunday, January 19, 2003

McGovern nearly flawless

Free State senior second in elite Bobcat Classic field

January 19, 2003

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— Second place at the Bobcat Classic is an impressive feat, considering that it's one of the state's toughest wrestling tournaments.

But Free State High's Nick McGovern didn't take solace in his finish.

Atchison Co. Community's Phillip Lyons handed McGovern an 11-5 loss in Saturday's 189-pound championship match at Basehor-Linwood, leaving the senior feeling glum.

"I expect myself to win," he said. "It's just disappointing to lose close matches."

McGovern is too hard on himself. After all, the 22-team tournament's quality is tough to match. It featured 14 state finalists, seven state champions and 11 teams ranked in the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Assn. poll, including Kansas City Turner, Class 5A's top team. Turner placed 10th overall. The 171-pound class alone had four state champions.

Tough? Without a doubt.

But it's the same as the rest of the Firebirds' schedule. Tournaments in Arkansas City and Derby were just as challenging, which means the Bobcat Classic was just another stop in a long line of meets in preparation for regionals and state.

"Anybody that's going to do well at state will benefit from our schedule, but Nick in particular," FSHS coach Darrell Andrew said. "He's a really strong kid and he's got real good technique. He just needs to be confident in his shot."

Class 6A power Garden City -- ranked third -- ran away with the team title, beating Class 4A Fort Scott, 2011¼2 to 139. Junction City, Columbus and Shawnee Heights rounded out the top five.

FSHS placed 12th, getting medal performances from McGovern, 275-pound senior Grant Steinbach (third), 152-pound junior Brent Shoffner (fourth) and 125-pound junior Matt Somers (fifth).

Andrew praised Shoffner's and Steinbach's efforts as well. Shoffner had been dealing with nagging injures until recently but has placed at the last two tournaments. Steinbach beat Shawnee Heights' Matt Crosson in the consolation championship, 4-2 in overtime. Crosson is ranked third in 5A.

"Grant looked great, and Shoffner, he might have had the best tournament of all," Andrew said. "He really turned it on the last two weeks and placed in state tournament-caliber tournaments."

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