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. But for the Baker University wrestling team, there 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.
"All three teams that we wrestled were quality teams," head coach Jimmy May said. "It was a job well done by our group. 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. 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 he recorded a takedown with three seconds remaining to win 5-3 for BU's lone three points of the dual.
The Hawkeyes went on to win the dual 47-3, but May was pleased with his team's effort.
"For us to win one match against Iowa was huge," May said. "At (the) 149 (weight class), Jarell pulled that off in the last three seconds, so that was a huge win for him personally and a huge win for our program, too, because many schools have went into Carver-Hawkeye Arena and got shut out by those guys. For us to score points against the number one team in the nation was a great moment for us."
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 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.
Losing duals is not something that 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. "I don't know how many guys came up to me and asked me where Baldwin or Baker University was, including sports media people for Iowa. It was great exposure for our school and the wrestling program."