The No. 10 Baker University wrestling team has continued to make its presence known to the rest of the country as it has fixated itself into the top 10 in the national poll for the past two months.
After back-to-back weekends of tough competition at the NWCA-Cliff Keen National Duals and the Viking Warrior Open, most of the team had last weekend off.
“It was pretty nice (to have a week off),” freshman Bo Newport said. “(Assistant) Coach (George) Roath took some people to try to qualify for nationals, but most of us got to stay back.”
While many wrestlers rested up for the stretch run of the season, 11 wrestlers made the trip to the York Open Saturday in York, Neb.
“We took 11 kids and four of them placed in the top eight,” head coach Jimmy May said. “We’ve mainly just been trying to get ready for the Kansas Cup this week. We did have (junior) Jacob Nowak trying to qualify for nationals, so we sent him up there. He placed sixth, but did not qualify because there were not enough people competing in his weight class.”
Many of the wrestlers who did not compete in the York Open were excited to have a weekend off, but are also ready to begin the stretch run leading up to the regional and national tournaments.
The Wildcats have been on the road since their season debut at Collins Center with the Dan Harris Open, but they will host a tournament and dual within the next week.
BU will host the Kansas Cup at 9 a.m. Sunday and then square off against No. 4 Oklahoma City University at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Collins Center.
“I’m very excited,” senior Dylan Berg said. “I’ve been at this school for almost two years now and this is the first time I’ve wrestled in front of the home crowd.”
The Kansas Cup will feature nine schools, including highly touted NCAA Division II Fort Hays State University and Labette Community College. The Wildcats placed third in the Kansas Cup two years ago and second last year and May would be pleased with another top three finish.
“It’s a small tournament,” May said. “It’s not like the Dan Harris Open where we have six mats and we’ll only have three mats. It’s like the showcase for Kansas college wrestling.”
May is eager to see how his team will bounce back to face Oklahoma City, which has 11 new wrestlers in its starting 12 this season.
“They are very loaded this year,” May said. “We beat them last year, but they are ranked fourth in the country right now. They just wrestled at a tournament this weekend and had a really good showing down there in Missouri, so they are going to be tough to beat.”