Atwood, seniors shine in home dual

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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Junior Kyler Atwood came into a senior night dual with Ottawa University as just an extra body in case he was needed. With a Baker victory already decided, he took on Romiro Gatica in the 285-pound class and delivered the match of the night in Baker’s 31-12 team win over the Braves on Tuesday.

“I weighed in at 196, and (Gatica) was at 264, so I knew I had a lot go up against,” Atwood said.

The 68-pound disadvantage seemed to be too much for Atwood to overcome, as he was thrown face-first into the mat early on, busting open a lip and trailing Gatica 8-3 after two periods. Atwood stormed back in the third, even taking a 10-8 lead before Gatica’s reversal in the final seconds forced overtime.

“That was a big, strong guy I was facing, so I just wanted to take advantage of angles, since I didn’t want to be under him for too long,” Atwood said.

Atwood took the match points in overtime to win 12-10 over Gatica, cementing a dominant senior night performance for the Wildcats.

“It was great to win for the seniors,” Atwood said. “I love those guys and I went out for my match with a lot of energy. I’m just glad I was able to get it done.”

All three Baker seniors who took to the mat came away victorious. Colby Crank defeated Ottawa’s Mark Smith in a 3:50 technical fall, Connor Middleton got a technical fall win against Ben Dejarnett, and Trevor Sutton outlasted Noah McGinnis in an 8-3 decision.

The Wildcats took seven of the nine total matches on the card, with junior Victor Hughes dominating Jay Pacha with a 1:07 fall victory, junior Josh Ortiz earning a fall win over Brandon Ott, and freshman Zane Baugh taking down Grant Hollingsworth in a 6-2 decision.

“We had won quite a few matches before I went up, so I went out to the mat with some positive momentum,” Atwood said.

The only two losses for the Wildcats came on decisions in the 125-pound and 197-pound class. Ottawa’s Kalbe Furr defeated Wildcat sophomore Logan McDowell 5-1, and junior Billy Leone lost a 5-2 decision to Kasey Crump.

The matchups on paper seemed to favor Baker for the most part, but the No. 18 Wildcats did not take the unranked Braves lightly.

“As a team, we decided a long time ago that rankings didn’t matter,” Atwood said. “We knew we would be in nationals and take care of business, so it was just a matter of going out and getting it done tonight.”

Atwood’s wild win on Tuesday only gives him and the rest of the Wildcats more motivation to work harder in preparation for the upcoming regional qualifiers and national championship tournaments later this year.

“That was a great win, and it was great to show the crowd what we are made of. We’ve been busting our butts all season, and we won’t stop anytime soon,” Atwood said. “We have nationals coming up, and we’re more focused and determined than ever.”