I’ve known of Blake Bauer since before he even started wrestling… which may sound confusing considering he is from Southeast Warren, which is near Des Moines and I am from SE Iowa, which is like 3 hours away from there. How on Earth would I know of this kid before wrestling? Well, here’s how… I went to Loras College from 2003-2007 and was on the wrestling team for 3 of those years. One of my favorite teammates (or people on campus for that matter) was a friend of mine named Brandon Bauer, a 2X state placer from Southeast Warren who had tons of athletic talent. He was one of the nicest people you’d meet there. And when we would all hang out on weekends and what-not, the friendly argument of “who will win between my brothers Shea and Brennan and Brandon’s cousin, Blake if they meet up on the wrestling mat someday” happened between Brandon and I at least once or twice… Blake was in the grade between Shea and Brennan, so we knew there’d be a chance that he’d encounter at least one of them eventually. And because of his relation to Brandon, I always rooted for Blake whenever I’d see him wrestle and he always did very well, which was no surprise to me considering who his cousin was.
Funny thing was Blake never met up with either of my brothers until college a few years ago… He and my brother Shea wrestled somewhere and Blake actually pinned Shea in OT, I believe. I couldn’t quit thinking about those conversations I had with Brandon in college when those two met up. I just thought it was funny that the matchup actually did happen and it took that long for it to take place… And neither of those guys had any idea… 😂
Blake is a product of High Altitude Wrestling Club, one of the best ever wrestling clubs in Iowa wrestling history and it’s run by Coach Chad Tunink. That’s a man who has made such a positive impact on so many lives in his work with his wrestling club… he has produced so many well-rounded athletes and stand-up individuals in his day… huge props to him.
One of my favorite things about Blake is that he has excelled in multiple sports besides wrestling. I always think it’s a good look for wrestling when wrestlers show that they are able to succeed in multiple facets of life, for wrestling likely plays a role in that. With that said, in HS, Blake was a decorated baseball and football player along with being an accomplished wrestler.
What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?
I wrestled for High Altitude Wrestling Club(HAWC), Southeast Warren High School, Spent 2 years at Simpson College, and have spent the last 2 years at Wartburg with a 5th year left to go there.
What year did you graduate?
High School: 2017 ; College: Next year
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
My dad encouraged me to wrestle at a young age and I slowly began to love the sport more and more. Chuck Tyler was also a major influence and has always helped me out when needed throughout my career.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
My dad, Ross Bauer, was a 3x state qualifier(never placed), my cousin Brandon Bauer was a 2x state place winner (6th and 7th I believe), my brother Kaleb Bauer was a state qualifier one year(2019), and my cousin Colby Page was a 2x state qualifier and placed 8th his senior year(2019). Many state qualifiers on my moms side of my family as well, some who placed at state at time or two.
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
I qualified 2x for AAU state but never placed, never had a consistent rival.
What was your record in HS?
Roughly like 166-30
How did you place at state every year?
Freshman year: State Qualifier, 0-2
Sophomore year: State Finalist, 2nd place.
Junior year: lost in the district wrestleback
Senior year: State Finalist, 2nd
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
One major story that shaped me as a person today and greatly impacted my wrestling career was in high school. As a sophomore, I was a state runner up. I was the first state finalist for SEW in 15 plus years. I was on a high going into my junior season. Junior year I had many people in my ear and I decided to cut from around 143 down to 113. It was a brutal cut and definitely one of my dumber moves in wrestling. I missed weight multiple times and was never fully ready to compete because of how much I cut. I lost in the district finals to a club partner from HAWC, and then lost in the district wrestle back in the last 15 seconds to an opponent I had pinned the week before and was 6-0 against in my career. It was the most devastating loss I had experienced. I instantly went from coming off the highest of highs to dropping to the lowest of lows. I was mentally at a point where I had to make a decision to get tough and get better or break. I wrestled a lot of freestyle that year and did HAWC camps and was weighing around 152 for football. I ended up cutting down to 132, four classes up from the year before. I went into the state tournament ranked like 8th. I ended up defeating Kolton Roth who was ranked second at the time, in the semis to make the finals again. This was one of the most exciting moments of my career because when I won that semis match I had just felt like I had overcome a major obstacle. I went from runner up to not even qualifying, went up 4 weights and I felt like I proved myself in that moment by making the finals again. It was a humbling experience because it brought me back down to earth when I was very confident and at times too confident, but losing that match my junior year changed me for the better and to this day I believe that moment was more beneficial than harmful because it changed my career and my mindset.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
My style in college has changed since high school. In high school I wrestled a lot like the Iowa style where I was very physical and didn’t score many points but I looked to pin people. In college now, I look to put points on the board and try to score as many as I can.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
I never really had a guy I went back and forth with, I wrestled my buddy and club teammate Josh Tibbits multiple times in high school and most of those matches were pretty close, many 1 point matches, but he won every time we met.
Who was your most influential coach?
My most influential wrestling coaches were Chad Tunink(HAWC coach) and Dallas O’brien(high school coach)
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
We were good as a team every year in high school, we were state dual runner ups to Clarion Goldfield Dows my sophomore year and placed 4th in the traditional tournament that year.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
The 2 guys I looked up to the most growing up were Robert and David Walker from Martensdale St. Mary’s. Robert was a 3x champ and David won it once. I had known them since I was very young and they were very successful, they also wrestled at HAWC, so I just looked up to them and wanted to be as good as they were when I was younger.
Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?
This is a tough question because of the amount of great wrestlers from the state of Iowa, not sure I can pick one.
Are there any wrestlers you’ve seen, past or present that you would compare your style to?
Early in my career I often tried to compare myself to Tony Ramos, you know, the stare downs, the little attitude he wrestled with is kind of what I tried to imitate. I also was a big user of the cattle catcher that Ramos pinned many guys with.
What are some interesting hypothetical matchups between guys from different eras that you would have been interesting in seeing?
I have always thought about what the matchups of the old days top guys vs todays top guys in Iowa would look like. The change in styles and everything, I think it is interesting to think about.
Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?
I have a lot of respect for a lot of guys from my era, a couple in particular were Jacob Hoch and Brady Kyner. Jacob was a senior the year we made the state dual finals and he was very talented, he was a leader for us that year. Brady was my age so he and I were practice partners all the way through so the respect just continued to grow and now we are teammates at Wartburg. He’s had a big impact on my career through being training partners.
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
I like guys like Spencer Lee and RBY. They score points and each have their own way of doing so.
What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
I listened to anything that would get me hyped up. I liked listening to like 2000s rap and some of the newer rap songs that you would hear before football games and stuff. I always loved the music at state wrestling because it would help me relax some.
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
Junior year coming off a runner up finish and losing at districts.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
If I could change one thing it would have been to not cut as much weight, especially junior year.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
Making the finals as an individual twice was definitely up there as well as making the state dual finals with a group of guys who put in the work and saw it pay off.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
Josh Tibbits, multiple guys from I35, wrestled a couple good matches with Kyle Biscoglia as well in high school. In college I have wrestled some guys at many tournaments who were pretty good from many different schools.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
I wrestled almost all year, I slowed down in the summer as I was big into baseball, but I wrestled during football in the fall and freestyle in the spring. Fargo at the end of summer as well.
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
Not sure just because of the styles
Did you wrestle after high school?
Going into my 5th year of college, and my 3rd year wrestling at Wartburg College.
What other sports did you play?
I played football, where I was an all district linebacker, and baseball where I played on some good teams and had a few accolades as well.
What are your favorite sports teams?
Chicago Cubs, San Francisco 49ers
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
I like to hunt and fish as well as coach baseball and wrestling
How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?
I love giving back, I have had so many people that have done so much for me through the sport so giving back is a big thing for me.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
Wrestling has helped me understand what hard work is and why its important to work hard no matter what. You’re going to fail at times, but its how you respond.
What do you do now?
I now wrestle at Wartburg College, and in the summers I am the head junior high baseball, and assistant high school baseball coach at SEW.
Are you still involved with wrestling?
Yes through competing and running camps as well
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Put in the work and it will pay off, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t accomplish your goals.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
I am not sure about that haha
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
I would just like to shout out to my parents for all the time and money spent helping me have opportunities to reach my goals, Chuck Tyler for always supporting me, Chad Tunink and Dallas O’brien for always believing in me. Also my college coach Eric Keller.