FAYETTE — Jordan Baumler has wrestled with a bigger target on his back this season.
The North Fayette Valley senior has dodged a few shots, but he’s taken a few direct hits, too. The returning 220-pound state champion turned those setbacks into learning experiences.
“It’s a wake-up call,” Baumler said. “I have to get ready for every match. I have to be in position and wrestle well in all positions. Can’t take anyone for granted or else they will beat you.”
Baumler will begin his quest for a second straight state crown when Class 1A and 2A programs across the state begin the postseason with sectional tournaments Saturday. Baumler will compete in a 2A sectional at Luther College in Decorah, starting at noon.
Losing anything doesn’t set well with Baumler, who is 31-2 this season. He approached the coaches and asked what he needed to do to improve, so they watched film and began to break down the process step-by-step.
“He took it tough,” North Fayette Valley Coach Jacob Pedersen said. “He put it on himself.
“He said I need to be better if I’m going to repeat. I think he’s driven right now. He’s focused.”
The season has been filled with challenges. Each opponent has wanted a piece of a state titlist. Baumler realized that he was always going to get his opponent’s greatest effort.
“You’re going to get everyone’s best match since you’re a returning state champion,” second-ranked Baumler said. “You’re going to get the best out of everyone. It only makes you better.”
Baumler said he has opened up more and improved in each position, becoming a better all-around wrestler from a year ago. He spent some time in the offseason training with his brother, Nick, who was a state finalist for the TigerHawks and is the current 197-pound starter for Upper Iowa.
The two-time Upper Iowa Conference champion is a four-sport athlete, competing in football, track and baseball as well. He even has a reputation of being able to play basketball, draining a half-court shot during halftime of a game. Baumler battles his father, Kevin, and brother in golf. Athleticism, coupled with his strong competitive nature, serves him well.
“It’s huge,” Pedersen said. “He’s one of those guys who can grind out a match just like anybody else can. A lot of times in matches he might not be the biggest 220-pounder or might bump up to heavyweight, but that’s when his athleticism kicks in.”
Baumler said the key to his postseason success depends on wrestling smart and hard in every position. Another title isn’t an all or nothing scenario. He is concerned with reaching his potential.
“I’m going to put out my best effort,” the three-time state qualifier said. “I feel confident I should get the job done.”
The rest of the field at Luther includes Crestwood, Decorah, Oelwein, Waukon and West Delaware.
Anamosa, Solon, Washington (Iowa), Benton Community and Williamsburg will host other 2A sectionals. Iowa City Liberty will compete at Davenport Assumption.
In Class 1A, defending state champion Lisbon will host a sectional with Belle Plaine, Durant, Highland, Iowa City Regina, Lone Tree, North Cedar and West Branch. Cascade and English Valleys also will host 1A sectionals.
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