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Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s Brenden Baker entertains a chance to wrestle international.
So, he embraced the chance when it was presented.
Baker will be one of a select group of wrestlers to face the FILA Cadet Canadian Team on Thursday night at Independence High School, beginning at 7 p.m. He will be joined on the team by Lisbon state champion Nick Williams and Independence two-time state medalist Chase Straw.
“I’m very excited,” Baker said. “It’s something you don’t get to do everyday.”
Baker was top-ranked most of the season before placing third at the Class 3A state tournament in February for the J-Hawks as a sophomore, finishing with a 41-1 record.
The event could be a cornerstone for long-term goals of being a World or Olympic champion.
“I’d like to pursue it after college,” said Baker, who admires USA Wrestling’s 2013 Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year Spenser Mango and U.S. team member David Taylor in freestyle. “This could be a good start to experiencing it.”
Baker was going to get a quick workout in Tuesday night. The dual is a freestyle competition, but Baker is better at Greco-Roman. He is ready for the challenge. Baker plans on making it a learning experience.
“It will be good to see how others wrestle,” Baker said. “It should be fun.”
The Iowa team will be coached by Hall of Fame coach Jim Miller, who led the Knights to nine NCAA Division III team titles. Independence head coach Michael Doyle and Mustangs assistant Keith Donnelly will help Miller. Miller said the event will be a treat for competitors and fans.
“It’s a pretty unique, even in Iowa, to see international competition at this age group,” said Hall of Fame wrestler and coach Jim Miller, who will be leading the Iowa team. “I hope kids take advantage.”
The projected squad includes North Linn’s Brock Henderson, Lisbon’s Chase McLaughlin, OA-BCIG state champion Cash Wilcke and state medalist Gannon Gremmel, of Dubuque Hempstead. Independence also will be represented by Mitch Evens and Jake Juhl.
The dual will give wrestlers a chance to wrestle in an exciting atmosphere against different competition. The wrestlers can use the experience to work toward their goals in any style.
“I’m looking for some competitive matches from these younger kids,” Miller said. “It will be a cool deal.”
Donnelly traveled to Iowa City Wednesday to help escort the Canadian team to Independence. He said the plan was to take the Canadian on local tours, set up a practice opportunity, provide lodging with host families and a Thursday trip to the University of Northern Iowa wrestling facilities in Cedar Falls.
“You look at a lot of wrestlers and their goal is to wrestle international,” Donnelly said. “For us to get to host it and give some The Canadian spent a couple days training in Iowa City, wrestling another local team at Iowa City High on Tuesday night.
The Iowa squad won 10 of 12 competed matches. Highland’s brother tandem of Bryce and Drew West each won at 50 kilograms. Nelson Brands, the son of University of Iowa associate head coach Terry Brands who will be a freshman at Iowa City West in the fall, pinned his 46-kilogram opponent.
The Trojans’ Donovan Doyle (85) and Nate Kelsay (69) added wins. Doyle posted an impressive 10-0 technical fall over Ameen Aghamirian, bronze medalist at the 2014 FILA Cadet Pan Am Championships.
Center Point-Urbana state champion and two-time finalist Brock Rathbun won by technical fall. Nic Jarvis, of Iowa City High, won by fall at 69 kilograms.
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