Senior Spotlight: Baylor Crigger, Camanche

By Joshua Swafford for The Predicament

When did you start wrestling? Who introduced you to the sport?

I started wrestling in the 1st grade as my dad introduced me to the sport as he was a wrestler himself. But I really started getting into the sport in the 5th grade when I was introduced to the Young Guns program with Eric Juergens.

Do you have any family who wrestled before you? How did they do?

As I mentioned before, my dad, Troy, was a wrestler along with my two uncles, Chad and Jeff. All three of them wrestled for Clinton High School. My dad ended with the better career as he finished with a runner-up title in the class 3A state competition. He grew up learning from the Knight family, more specifically, Danny and Steve.

Did you catch on to wrestling quickly or was it a gradual process?

I am not going to lie, I was not a very good wrestler at first. It was a sport that I found to be challenging and at first I wasn’t totally invested in that. But I soon sold myself to it, creating a gradual process of becoming somewhat successful in it.

What club did you wrestle for growing up and how would you describe your experience with the club?

As previously mentioned, I wrestled at the Young Guns Wrestling Club with Eric Juergens. I would describe my experience with the club as being life changing, not only with my wrestling, but as a human being as well. I owe much of my success to Juergens because of his great technique and wrestling philosophy. He really strives to teach us to pay attention to the little details because that will make your wrestling reach the next level. Young Guns taught me discipline and the attitude to win and never give up. Very appreciative as to what the club has done for me. It’s also not everyday you can learn from one of the best wrestlers to ever live.

What are a couple memorable moments from youth wrestling?

One memorable moment that I have is when I was in 6th grade. It was the year I won my first AAU state title. I came in to the tournament having people not know my name. When I got first, I thought my dad was going to freak out and give me a hug and stuff like that. He didn’t do any of that and instead gave me a high five and gave me some feedback as to what I could do better next time. He wasn’t being hard on me, I just realized his expectations were much higher than I thought. Ever since that moment, it has made me work harder because I know that my ceiling is so much higher than I thought. That moment shaped my life forever!

How did you finish at state tournaments in youth?

I’ll start with Grade School State. I won the tournament twice in 6th and 8th grade and finished second in 7th grade. Every other time I went, prior to those times, I did not place. At USA State, I won the tournament my 8th grade year and got 3rd my 7th grade year. Those were the only times I went to that state. Then AAU State. My fifth grade year I only qualified, my 6th and 8th grade year I won it, and my 7th grade year I finished 2nd.

What are some of your more memorable moments from high school wrestling?

Some of my most memorable moments from high school are when I hit the milestones of 100 and 150 career wins. Another moment was when I got third this year because it showed all the hard work that was put in to get to that point, especially with having those injuries set me back earlier in my career. But my most memorable moment was when my teammate, Eric Campie, won the dual against West Liberty to secure an undefeated record as a team in conference play, my freshman year. We bumped him up from 113 to 120 and we needed a pin to win it. With close to 13 seconds left, he pins the kid and everyone went crazy. So that would be my most memorable moment of my high school career.

How did you finish at the state tournaments you wrestled in at the HS level?

I only qualified for the state tournament twice during my high school career. My junior year I ended up going 1-2 with losing to Mangold and McCunn. Then this past year, my senior year, I got 3rd place with losing to Noftsger in the quarterfinal. Overall, it wasn’t what I wanted but it’s just something you got to live with.

Who were your wrestling heroes growing up?

My first hero growing up was Dan Gable. I read his book at a young age and instantly fell in love with his story. My second hero was Eric Juergens. Getting to wrestle under him at Young Guns made me appreciate him more and him helping me out a lot with my wrestling makes me grateful for him. My third and final hero is my dad. He taught me the basics of the sport and guided me to my success. I’ve been chasing his records, state placing, and mindset. Can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done.

Was there ever a point in your career where you noticed yourself jumping levels and making huge strides?

At the end of my 5th grade year and heading into my 6th grade year was when I really started to realize a jump. It was a year after I started Young Guns and lifting weights. I know those two things are what helped me make those strides. Then during my sophomore campaign, I started to realize myself jumping another level. Freestyle helped with making this stride.

Who were some of your toughest competitors in HS?

During my high school, the toughest competitor that I had to face was Wilton’s Trey Brisker. All of our matches were close and went down to the wire. He beat me and I beat him but I’d say the most important part of our matches was that we made each other better every time we wrestled. We ended up wrestling 5 times and every time we brought something new to the match. Other tough competitors include Jacob Herrmann of Waverly Shell Rock, Brody Ivey of Sterling Newman (Illinois), and Kirk Mommsen of Assumption.

What are your wrestling goals now that you are moving on from high school?

I’m heading up to wrestle up at Loras in Dubuque. As of right now I do not know what to expect with College wrestling but the weights classes I project to be at is filled with hammers so my first goal is break the starting line up. Then moving on from that would be a national qualifier, All-American, and National Champion. I have other small personal goals but those are big ones I am striving to achieve.

How would you describe your wrestling style? Who would you compare yourself to?

I would describe my wrestling style as being aggressive. I was always taught to get that first takedown so relentless would also be used to describe my style as well. On my feet, I would compare myself to Alex Marinelli. He is always in your face and gives you strong clubs to the head, as well as looking for high crotches and outside singles. All things I do and look for. On top, I would compare myself to Spencer Lee. Both going through the Young Guns program, I see myself doing a lot of the same cheap tilts he does and that is where I score all of my points just like him. On bottom, I would describe myself as being compared to Brandon Sorensen. He was never an explosive wrestler on bottom, but instead of looking for hand control to eventually getting the escape.

Do you have any regrets from wrestling or did you leave it all out there?

Of course I believe there are things I could have done differently in some of my matches but I am one that believes everything happens for a reason. With that, I did leave it all out on the mat and I’m planning to do so as I make the jump to college.

What other sports do you play and how have you done at them?

The only other sport I played in high school was football. I enjoyed the sport just as much as I did with wrestling. I was the quarterback of the team and I ended up being a three year starter. It started out rough for me and the team but as time went on, Camanche got a new coach that the team could believe in. This past year we had the best record of recent years. Coming with a good record was a grateful honor of The Herald Football Player of the Year.

How cool was it to be named The Herald Football Player of the Year?

The honor of being named The Herald Football Player of the Year was something I am very proud of. But the award was much bigger than myself. The team definitely stepped up and put forth the effort so that type of award would be achievable. The talented receivers I had behind me were the ones that really won the award. Eric Campie and Jordan Lawrence to name my most targeted guys, broke many records at Camanche and will continue to do so as they continue their football careers. Eric will be at Coe College next year and Jordan entering his Junior year of high school. But in the end, I was incredibly grateful to win the award but it was so much bigger than myself.

The blocking, the route running, the play calling, etc., all plays a huge effect in the game of football.

What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling? Do you still participate in bodybuilding? What is your family’s history in that?

I do have a pretty busy life outside wrestling but my hobbies are what the typical teenage participates in. I like to fish, camp, hang with friends, and my favorite, frisbee golf. But I do not participate in powerlifting anymore. As cool as bodybuilding sounds, I don’t have that much dedication to making my body look like a  muscular beast. But as long as I will be completing in wrestling, my powerlifting career is going to be on pause. As we’re on the topic, my family does have some history in it. My dad was a huge power lifter as he set records throughout his career. He was the one that got me started in it and as soon as I start to compete again, he’ll be there as a coach. It’s a good history in the sport with my family and ultimately the biggest goal in the sport is chase down my dad’s records and hold that against him as we grow older.

What is some of the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I have ever received is that you must work hard to become successful. Everything people accomplish and succeeded in, is built around hard work and sacrifices. Since I was a young man, I have been taught to work for things I want. This was in anything from school, sports, etc. If you don’t work for something, you’re not going to achieve it. Many people today just expect things to be handed to them and they’re not doing the extra things. Extra things consist of staying after school to get help with homework you’re struggling with or doing extra sprints after wrestling practice. I look at it like this. If you don’t want to put in the extra time to become more successful in something, than what you are working for is not important to you. Work hard in life, it’s as simple as that.

Do you have any advice for up and coming wrestlers?

As previously stated, I believe that hard work is the most important advice I can give anyone. But with hard work, you must be willing to learn and get better at the sport. Get time in after practice with a coach to get some tips on a certain position you feel weak on. I guess the saying of “hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard”, is a statement that I have based my work ethic on. I say that because I wasn’t a talented athlete at first and I know kids who had all the talent in the world but when it comes to hard work, they don’t decide to do it. Eventually, they would burn out and get passed up by the hard workers to either quit or be an average wrestler at best.

What is your favorite style of wrestling? Folkstyle, Freestyle or Greco?

Folkstyle is my favorite style. I’ve done all three and I just find folkstyle to be the most fun out of all of them.

Do you feel the Dan Gable quote, “wrestling makes everything else in life easier” is an accurate quote? How has wrestling shaped and molded you as a person?

I believe that quote is a very accurate representation of what wrestling is. Wrestling has taught me so many things that I can be grateful for and it has molded me into the person I am today. It teaches you discipline in ways that nothing can even come close too. It teaches you what hard work actually consists of. If you don’t want to put the extra work in to make your craft better, get your conditioning better, or just simply to get your mental state better, the sport will chew you up and spit you out. That’s what is so amazing about it is that only a select few want to participate in this rough sport and with doing so it makes you better student, employee, son, daughter, husband, wife, and just a better person. I’m glad I found wrestling because I would not be the same without it.

Who were some of the most influential coaches you worked with?

My very first coach was my dad and I would have to say he was the most influential person I’ve got to work with. As a former wrestler he knew what I needed to do to become successful whether that was with my training or my diet, I knew I could always count on him to do what’s best for me. The other coach that  was very influential on me was coach Juergens. My dad could do only so much and Juergens had a lot more knowledge on the technique side of things. He was the guy who took my wrestling to different levels and for that I can’t thank him enough and I’ll be forever grateful.

What are your college plans? Is wrestling in your future whether it be competing or coaching?

My next step is to head up to Dubuque and wrestle for coach Miller and Kittleson at Loras College. I plan on either majoring in Education to become a elementary teacher or kinesiology to head up the path of physical therapy. Once out of school, I plan on getting a coaching license as well and see if I can impact other people the way I was impacted through the coaching aspect of things. So competing and coaching are in my future.

Were you blown away at how nice of a city Dubuque is when you visited? I was a Duhawk and truly loved that city. There is nothing like it...the scenery, food, activities, etc...even the accents are...well, Dubuquian accents. Are you excited to experience Dubuque?

Dubuque is an amazing city with everything you mentioned, scenery, food, activities, etc., it has it all. Excited to go from a small little town in Camanche to a bigger more advanced place like Dubuque. But overall, I can’t wait to get up there and start school/wrestling in August.

What is the future outlook for Camanche wrestling?

To be honest, the future outlook on Camanche wrestling is not looking so good. I’m not saying the wrestlers coming up are bad, I’m talking about the numbers in our middle school and junior programs are small and declining. We still have returning place winner Eric Kinkaid coming back for three more years as he was a freshman placing 4th this year. Be on the look out for him to be on top that podium multiple times the next few years. Kid is a hammer. Then Brennan Kramer is a kid to look out for as he has been putting in the work this offseason. Cade Everson is another stud that could be making some noise in the middle weights the next two years. After the next two years we lose a lot and will be struggling to fill weights. Maybe a miracle will happen and kids will start to go out but for now, I’m not quite sure what the future of Camanche wrestling looks like.