By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
COLUMBIA — For a third year in a row, a Chillicothe High School Hornet walked off the mat at the MSHSAA Wrestling Championship for the last time having had his arm raised in victory, meaning he was a medalist.
Saturday, that distinction was earned, for the second-straight year, by a freshman, this time Aaron Baker.
As Kyler Sewell did a year ago, A. Baker claimed a fifth-place medal at state during the noon hour Saturday at the University of Missouri's Mizzou Arena. He accomplished that feat by coming from behind 4-0 in the first period to decision fellow frosh Taylor Airrington of Odessa 9-8 in the fifth-place bout.
"It's a lot different than kids' club (youth wrestling), that's for sure."
"He kept battling and got a reversal that made it 4-2 by the end of that (60-second) period," CHS first-year head coach Drew Passley remarked in summarizing the finals bout. "I knew, as soon as he bounced back, that he could come back and win this match."
By winning for the third time in five bouts at the state tournament, A. Baker ended his first year of high school competition with a 37-9 record, the best winning percentage of any 2012-13 Hornet grappler.
"Aaron wrestled really well at the tournament. His first two matches, he wrestled as well as he has all year," Passley praised.
A. Baker follows in the footsteps of Sewell last year and Nick Plummer the year before in winning his medal match. Plummer took third in 2011 and Sewell, who fell one victory short of a medal this year when he lost in the consolation quarterfinals Friday night, earned fifth in 2012.
"It's great to medal that freshman year," A. Baker commented to the C-T just after his last bout.
Also Saturday, Southwest Livingston's Ethan Crowe settled for fourth place for a second-successive year, opting to injury-default the Class 1 195-pounds third-place match to Polo's Justin Hicks, last year's champion at that weight, so as to not take a chance on worsening an injury.
According to Wildcats head coach Tyler Anderson, trainers at the tournament determined Crowe partially tore a trapezius muscle in his upper back during his championship-semifinals bout loss Friday night. Crowe did not realize he had an injury until a short while after that bout, the coach told the C-T.
With a consolation-semifinals opponent he felt he could beat to at least clinch fourth, Crowe opted to compete Saturday morning.
Partially-compromised in what he could do with one arm, the Wildcat fell well behind Michael Stanley of Gallatin, sustaining only his third and fourth takedowns in 35 bouts this season, Anderson related. However, the Southwest Livingston standout, from the "up" position, got his foe in a cradle and pinned him after 31 seconds of the last period.
Page 2 of 2 - Crowe took fourth at 170 pounds a year ago. The junior wrapped up his year 33-2.