There’s no better motivation to get better in sports than defeat.

There’s no better motivation to get better in sports than defeat.

It’s something Sulphur senior wrestling standout Dan Baker has taken very serious this summer.

Following his much talked about defeat in the state finals in March to Comanche’s Konner Doucet, the state champion Bulldog athlete has been hard at work the past couple of months

Baker has been competing for Team Oklahoma/Oklahoma Outlaws not just within the state but across the country in various junior tournaments.

The experience is nothing new for Baker overall, but it’s something he says has gotten him more than ready for his upcoming senior season at SHS.

“With this year being my senior season, I want to go out with a bang and win another state championship,” he said. “Wrestling this summer has just prepared me even more to be in a position to do that.”

“It’s a huge advantage to have a full schedule in the summer months,” Baker added. “You are basically doubling the amount of time you get on the mat. When it comes to the regular season you’ve already seen twice as much action as compared to someone who has wrestled a regular schedule during the year.”

During the month of June, Baker competed at the junior national duals competition in Tulsa, where he wrestled in the freestyle and Greco-Roman divisions.

Despite going 1-3 overall in his freestyle matches, Baker had a much better showing in Greco-Roman as he totaled an impressive 5-1 record.

Baker’s lone victory in the freestyle division came against Jacob Cardenas from New Jersey by a score of 14-4. 

Cardenas entered the tournament with an impressive resume representing Queen of Peace High School in North Jersey as he had previously won the 170-pound tournament at the National High School Coaches Association Championships in Virginia Beach this past March. He also received All-American status at the tournament. 

The opening match of the freestyle division saw Baker lose to Brandon Whitman who was representing Dundee High School in Michigan by a score of 5-4. Whitman is verbally committed to wrestle at North Carolina. 

Baker’s other defeats came at the hands of Daniel Kervliet from Minnesota via technical fall 16-6, as well as Anthony Perrine from Ohio via fall.

Perrine is a defending state champion from Nordonia High School, and helped lead his team to its first state championship since 1999 earlier this year.

In the Greco-Roman matches of the tournament, Baker came out on fire in the beginning.

First he defeated Anthony Gaoana from Kansas 11-2, before earning a pin and a measure of revenge against Kervliet in just over a minute.

Baker would move to 3-0 in the Greco-Roman ranks with a technical fall victory over Dawson Johnson from Tennessee 10-0. However, the winning streak would be halted against Perrine, but this time it was a narrow 8-6 defeat.

Collin McCoy from Texas and Utah’s Tyler Haley would be pinned to finish off a solid six match run for Baker.

“The biggest difference between national tournaments and local high school tournaments is the atmosphere,” Baker said. “These kids that wrestle and participate are doing this year round, and are doing whatever they can to improve all aspects of their wrestling ability.”

“It can be intimidating at times to go across the country and wrestle with the best,” Baker added. “But all you can do is go out there and wrestle to the best of your ability. My summer has been pretty busy with training and working for my dad. Now that all of the tournaments are over for the summer, it’s time to slow down and relax a little before school starts.”