Wrestlers face nation’s best; May pleased with experience

In most situations when a team goes on a road trip and returns without a victory, the players and coaches are often disappointed and frustrated.

However, for the Baker University wrestling team, their trip to the Iowa City Duals was different.

The Wildcats lost their first three duals in school history Friday against NCAA Division I No. 1 University of Iowa, NCAA Division III No. 5 Cornell College and NJCAA No. 1 Iowa Central Community College.

“Obviously, we went up there to win as many matches as we could, and we struggled to win matches individually, but when I woke up (Saturday) morning, I thought about the group we took up there and the monumental task that was accomplished,” head coach Jimmy May said. “Looking at it now, I couldn’t be prouder of our kids.”

BU began the day by taking on Iowa in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes took control of the dual early by pinning the first three Wildcats to get out to an 18-0 lead, but then senior Jarell Price got the opportunity to prove himself as an All-American.

Price and Iowa’s Jacob Ballweg were deadlocked in a 3-3 tie late in the third period until Price recorded a takedown with three seconds remaining to win 5-3 for BU’s lone three points of the dual.

“I was just thinking that Baker athletics and all I stand for is that we wrestle anybody at any time, so I was like, I’m in this match so I might as well take him down and win it,” Price said.

The Hawkeyes went on to win the dual 47-3, but May was pleased with his team’s effort.

“For us to score points against the number one team in the nation was a great moment for us,” May said.

The Wildcats then went up against the Tritons of Iowa Central, but the top-ranked junior college in the nation proved as an equally tough opponent. Iowa Central defeated BU 42-3 with junior Brandon Gebhardt coming away with a victory.

Baker closed out the day against Cornell, which proved to be the most successful dual of the day for the Wildcats. Price, junior Parker Owen and senior Dylan Berg won their matches to give the ‘Cats their nine points in the 25-9 defeat.

“It was extremely exciting to be at the mecca of American wrestling and being underneath the big lights and getting your hand raised,” Owen said. “It’s something that a lot of people dream of doing, but not a lot of people ever accomplish.”

Losing duals is not something the Wildcats have ever been accustomed to, but the experience of working out in Iowa’s wrestling room and wrestling against some of the best teams in the nation in Carver-Hawkeye Arena was well worth it for the team.

“It was a great experience, not only for the kids, but for our coaches and our program and the school,” May said.

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