When it comes to wrestling, Eisenhower senior 126-pounder Dylan Baker is all about the task at hand.
During this past weekend's District 10 Class AA Section 1 Tournament at Union City High School, Baker's focus was solely on advancing to the District 10 Class AA Wrestling Championships in Sharon for the fourth time in four years.
He got the job done with a third-place finish at 126 pounds and will finish his high school career with four trips to districts in four attempts - a rare feat even for the most talented of wrestlers.
Times Observer photo by Allen Seybert
Working on 101
Eisenhower’s Dylan Baker, right, wrestles Saegertown’s Justin Mitchell in the 126-pound consolation finals of the District 10 Class AA Section 1 Wrestling Championships Saturday at Union City Area High School. Baker was a 2-1 winner, advancing to next week’s District 10 Class AA Championships in Sharon with a third-place finish. During the weekend tournament, Baker became the newst member of Eisenhower’s 100-win club.
Wrapping up his fourth trip to districts would've made the weekend special enough for Baker. But that wasn't all the Ike senior accomplished in Union City.
With his 13-4 major decision victory over Union City's Kevin Lindsley, Baker became the first Knight since Paul Waite in 2007 to reach the 100 career wins mark. Many of Waite's wins came while competing for Youngsville. The last Knight to get all 100-plus victories competing for Eisenhower was 1997 graduate Travis Hummel. Hummel holds the school record for career wins with 117.
Baker didn't take long to start adding to his total, winning his 101st match in the tournament's consolation finals with a 2-1 win over Saegertown's Justin Mitchell.
"It feels awesome to be categorized with some of the best wrestlers to ever compete for Eisenhower," said Baker. "All season, I've put pressure on myself to reach 100 wins. I knew going into sections that if I wanted to get to districts, I was going to have to get to 100. It was such a relief to be able to hit that mark."
Baker's coach, Kris Black, said Monday that he was "thrilled" to see Baker reach his goal and surpass 100 wins.
"Not only has he been incredibly consistent during his four years in the program, he's been very good as well," said Black. "As he approached 100 wins, we tried not to focus on it too much because it can become a distraction. But for him to get there is a hugh accomplishment and hopefully, he's got a lot more wrestling left to do."
Baker's career got off to a nice start with 18 wins as a freshman. He would go on to win 22 matches as a sophomore, 32 as a junior and now stands at 29-11 with the D-10 Class AA Championships in Sharon on the horizon.
Despite all his success, Baker has yet to advance to the PIAA Class AA Northwest Regional Tournament. In addition to adding to his win total, Baker will spend this weekend looking for the top six finish that is necessary to advance to the next level.
"(Advancing to regions) is my main goal now," said Baker. "Now that I've got the pressure of reaching 100 wins off my back, I'm just looking to extend my career for one more week. With the pressure off, I'm going to try to let it all hang out and make sure I am a high school wrestler for at least one more week."