Maryville’s Baker wins 197-pound class in Division II national wrestling tourney
Senior wrestle Matt Baker became Maryville University’s first national champion as he claimed a thrilling 5-4 overtime tiebreak decision in the championship bout of the 197-pound classification of the NCAA Division II wrestling national tournament in Birmingham, Ala.
Baker, who is the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the country at 197, opened the final day of the tournament with a 5-2 decision over Brandonn Johnson of Notre Dame (Ohio) College. In the finals, Baker squared off against Romero Cotton of the University of Nebraska-Kearney. The duo traded early escapes, and Baker trailed 3-2 heading into the third period. Baker recorded a takedown to take the lead at 4-3, but Cotton used an escape to force a 4-4 tie and move the match to overtime.
In the first sudden victory overtime session, neither Baker nor Cotton was able to tally a point to win the match. Cotton chose bottom for the tiebreaker, and Baker rode him out to keep the contest tied. Baker then earned a one-point escape during his 30 seconds on bottom and fended off a late takedown attempt to seal the win TB-1, 5-4 in a thrilling title match.
At 149, sophomore Keenan Hagerty earned his second straight All-American honors and reached the seventh-place match before falling to Cameryn Brady of Indianapolis.