As we conclude the 2020-21 wrestling season, it is time to look back on all the Red Raiders' victories. For a regular wrestling team, the season always comes with its fair share of highs and lows. However, Baylor proved that its season was anything but traditional, finishing the season 4-0 and winning both the region tournament and the state championships. Essentially, the season was loaded with nothing but highs.
The season started on December 8. The first match was at home against Bradley Central, and a lot was riding on this match because it would set the tone for the entire season. The team only had five good days of practice before they had to compete. Despite this, Baylor blew its competition out of the water, defeating Bradley Central 37-26. After the match, Coach Rex Kendle told Chattanoogan.com that the win wasn't “one of the better performances,” but with only five days of preparation, people can expect some imperfection. Nevertheless, this victory was only the start of an incredible journey.
After the cancellation of the Cleveland Duals, Baylor went on to the Knockout Christmas Classic on December 28. In Kissimmee, Florida, the Knockout is one of the most prestigious and challenging high school wrestling events in the entire Southeast, featuring 11 nationally-ranked wrestlers and the region's top teams. Baylor senior Nick Corday ‘21 had an incredible performance, and after four overtime periods in the finale, he was crowned the 113-pound champion of the tournament. His production, along with many others, brought Baylor the second place prize at the tournament.
Next, the Red Raiders took on Big Bad Blue - McCallie. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, multiple training sessions were canceled, and the wrestlers only had one week of preparation. Once again, this did not stop Baylor from beating McCallie with a score of 51-14. With this win, Baylor finished the brief season with a record of 2-0. It's good to know that throughout all the changes that this year has brought, the tradition of beating McCallie in wrestling remains constant.
After the season, Baylor continued to the State Duals on February 6. Following a crushing 55-9 win over Father Ryan in the championship, the wrestlers kept their winning streak alive with a 48-21 victory over Christian Brothers for the state title. Coach Kendle told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the “lineup had so many great wrestlers, and they all played a big part.” The stat sheet supports this claim. David Harper ‘22, Garrison Dendy ‘22, Nick Corday ‘22, and Elijah Turner ‘24 all had critical wins in both matchups leading to the victory, the best that Baylor had looked all year, and the results show it.
Tired of winning? Not the Baylor wrestling team. On February 13, the boys won their third region championship. They finished with 281 points, miles away from second place, McCallie with 160 points.
Baylor had six championships and seven more medalists who could qualify for the state tournament from this tournament. The champions were Nick Corday ‘22, Garrison Dendy ‘22, David Harper ‘22, Gunnar Garriques ‘22, Kade Hartline ‘21, and Jackson Bond ‘22. The runner ups were Omaury Alvarez ‘23, Anthony Manella ‘23, Micah Tisdale ‘23, and Matthew Tisdale. The third place finishers were Heath Snodgrass ‘21, Judson Jarrett ‘24, and Porter Kaufman ‘21. This season marks Baylor's third straight region championship and 16th overall.
The last day of the season was the traditional state championships. All the hard work and dedication that the wrestlers had put in throughout the year came down to this event on February 25. As expected, the Raiders pulled off the victory and held on to their title for the third year in a row. The win symbolizes the undefeated run that the wrestling team held on this year. Dendy, Harper, Corday, Hartline, and Garriques were all crowned individual state champions.
It is impossible to talk about the wrestling season without discussing the impact of COVID-19. As stated earlier in the article, there were many occasions in which the team could not practice due to health concerns. Furthermore, these wrestling events are usually packed with fans cheering for the team, and such participation was minimal this year. You also probably noticed that the wrestling season was incredibly short due to many other schools' cancellations. In an interview, Coach Kendle said that “this was an extraordinary season, and we didn't get many matches, but we were just happy to be wrestling.” Regardless of all the adjustments, Baylor was still able to bring in a fantastic season and finish the year as state champion.