The Baker Orange

2014-15 Wrestling Preview

Story by Hayley Morrical

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During the 2013-14 season, freshman Bryce Shoemaker was the first Baker wrestler to win an individual national championship. The ‘Cats ended that season ranked 16th nationally and will start this winter ranked in the same spot.

The team hopes to build on last season’s success. Coaches have stuck to last year’s practice routine, with additional open mat time and weightlifting schedules.

New to the year are notebooks issued to each wrestler that are to be used to write down thoughts and goals. The coaches took the lead of Olympic wrestler Kyle Dake who attributes a lot of his success on the mat to visualizing his goals through writing.

“We keep the same goals as last year: be Kansas Cup champions, regional champions, beat Grandview University, have multiple national champions, be team national champions, and win all duals,” senior Tyler Douglass said. “We want to be strong in the classroom and keep a cumulative team GPA of 3.5. We have goals on and off the mat.”

Ambition is a trend among Baker wrestlers. Junior Connor Middleton has his goals already for this season as well.

“I have very high expectations for this season. We have a lot talent returning from last season as well as a lot of new talent,” Middleton said. “In the room we are constantly pushing one another and are always encouraging each other. I expect the team as a whole to make a stand as one of the top in the nation.”

The season will have many roadblocks as the ‘Cats try to reach their goals, the first of which will come on Saturday as Baker opens its season at the University of Oklahoma Quad.

“The most difficult part of the season is peaking at the right time,” Middleton said. “The season is long and takes a toll on our bodies, so being continuously motivated is difficult. However I feel that the family atmosphere we are creating will help the team as a whole stay focused on our goal of being both individual and team national champs.”

The season’s challenges continue with matches at the University of Iowa Quad and the Grandview Dual (against the reigning national champions), before NAIA regionals and nationals.<br/>

Douglass expects NAIA regionals to have the toughest competition for the ‘Cat wrestlers.

“A lot of the top 10 teams have consistently been in our regional. Missouri Valley is always good, Grandview, and a lot of other strong programs,” Douglass said. “To make it out of Regionals can almost guarantee success at Nationals. The guys at our team that made it out of Regionals won matches at Nationals. A lot of people at Nationals aren’t successful when they come from weak Regionals. It’s a going to be a strength that we see such strong competition throughout the season.”

Since the beginning of the program in 2009, 10 Baker wrestlers have been honored as All-Americans. This season, the Wildcats consist of mostly sophomores and freshmen; however, the young team has high expectations of themselves to build on the BU wrestling success.

“We have some of the best guys in the country on our team and multiple guys who could at any point in time be in the number-one spot in their weight class,” Douglass said. “Each day you face tough competition. We have people that will make each other better.”

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