Silver for the senior
Cole Baughman just misses title with 1-0 loss
DENVER - Two young men embraced their fathers, tears flooding their eyes.
For one it was tears of joy while his father smiled and hugged him tight.
The other, Cole Baughman, wept tears of agony while his father and coach Shane Baughman did the only thing he could do. He pulled his son in close, told him that he was proud of him and said that he loved him.
As both fathers, who are also the coaches, escorted their sons from the mat, disappearing into the darkened hallway in the bowels of the Pepsi Center, the emotions were a vivid reminder of the pain and joy that personifies the state wrestling tournament.
Seth Harrington of Sedgwick County/Fleming felt the jubilation after scoring an epic 1-0 victory in the 132-pound Class 2A championship match.
Long after the final match of his career was over, Cole Baughman was slumped in a back hallway battling the demons that come with losing the championship match. It's the second-consecutive year that he's lost the title match. Those are powerful demons.
"I didn't finish the season the way I wanted to," he said, taking time to graciously sum up his feelings after the toughest loss of his life.
The match was a methodical slow-paced battle with Baughman pushing the action throughout. As the aggressor, the Dove Creek senior took several shots, knifing in at his opponent's legs in the first period but Harrington defended every one.
The second period was frustrating for Dove Creek fans to watch. With Cole starting on the bottom, Harrington wrestled conservatively, trying to keep Baughman anchored to the mat. Time and time again, he tried to break free, tried to score a reverse. Twisting, turning, rolling, Baughman was digging deep into his bag of wrestling experience, but Harrington weathered the second-period storm to keep the score tied at 0-0.
In last year's title match, Baughman was tied at 2-2 against Rocky Ford's Adam Baca. In the final two minutes, Baca scored five points to win the match. This year, Baca earned a second-straight title by winning the 126-pound division.
Now, a year later, Baughman was again tied going into the third period. He'd worked all year with those haunting memories of coming close only to lose the title match in the third period.
With Harrington starting the third period on the bottom, the junior made his most aggressive move of the match. He wiggled lose and broke free for an escape and a 1-0 lead.
For the rest of the period, Baughman took his shots, looking for that one takedown that would earn him a state title.
"The whole third period I was going after him but he just kept backing off," Baughman said. "I knew that he was winning by one and if I didn't take him down that he was going to win."
As the clock dipped under 10 seconds, Baughman powered into Harrington's legs one last time but, like he did the entire match, Harrington was up to the challenge, and the gold medal dreams of Cole Baughman vanished like a snowflake landing in a pond.
Harrington had lost to Baughman in last year's semifinals. This season, he made the most of rematch. Harrington finished the season at 32-1, while Cole ended his senior year at 43-3.
Baughman gives credit to Harrington, but said he was disappointed that he couldn't finish one of his many takedown attempts.
Nearly an hour after hugging his son following the painful loss, Shane Baughman somberly talked about the match and his son's effort.
"Life goes on. He gave it all he had and he's done that since he was 4 years old," he said. "He tried his hardest and that's all I've ever asked of him. He just came up a little bit short today. He took ever shot."
The pain and finality of losing a championship wrestling match makes the sport supremely tormenting, the veteran coach said.
"It's very elusive and they don't give out a lot of them (gold medals)," he said.
"You just want the best for your kids," he said with a painful smile.
That's what Harrington's father and coach wanted too.
"That kid is coached by his dad and he's probably coached him since he was little too. So they wanted it just as bad," Shane Baughman said.
Harrington was so overcome that he had difficulty finding the word to express the thrill of winning a state title.
"I'm just overwhelmed, thankful," he said, his eyes dripping tears. "I just held on and hoped for the best and it all worked out."
Tears were shed by both competitors. One took home gold, the other silver.
The Class 2A 132-pound championship match worked out for one and not for the other.
"I had a pretty successful career," Cole said, "I just wish it would have turned out better than it did."
He came for gold but Cole Baughman returned home with another silver.
His dreams of gold didn't quite work out.
Dale Shrull/ Cortez Journal