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Two Baker wrestlers win national titles

Story by Nathalia Barr, Managing Editor

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For the first time in program history, Baker wrestling ended the NAIA National Championships with three All-Americans and two national champions. Both 157-pound senior Colby Crank and 149-pound junior Victor Hughes won their respective weight divisions during the national competition March 4-5 at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka.

Crank, who entered the tournament seeded No. 4 for his weight class, defeated No. 2 Grant Henderson of Grand View in a 4-3 decision. No. 9 Hughes beat No. 3 Tyler Cowger from Southern Oregon in a 4-3 decision as well.

Crank could not compete last year due to an ankle surgery but overcame his injury this season to go all the way to the finals.

“To share that moment with coach (Cody) Garcia and my teammates was the greatest feeling in the world,” Crank said.

Crank ended his career as a four-time All-American, while Hughes has two All-American titles.

“I don’t think I could have written the ending any better to my career,” Crank said.

Hughes believes earning the All-American title last year propelled him through this year’s success.

The only other Baker wrestler to win a national title is 133-pound Bryce Shoemaker in 2014. Shoemaker now wrestles at Nebraska-Kearney.

Baker and Grand View were the only teams to have two individual national champions this year. The Vikings were the overall winners of the national tournament with 210 points. Grand View won the national title for the fifth-straight season, setting an NAIA record.

As a team, Baker finished the tournament tied for sixth place with 57.5 points.

In the 165-pound division, BU senior Connor Middleton defeated No. 6 Sean Black of Campbellsville to complete his season, take fifth place and earn his first All-American title.

Sophomore Tyler Dickman and junior Kyler Atwood also competed in the National Championships for the Wildcats but did not make it past the first day of the tournament.

Crank believes this is the most successful team he has ever been a part of, and he thinks the success will carry on in years to come.

“We performed a lot better than a lot of people probably expected us to, so I hope it can be a catalyst going forward,” Crank said.

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