Only the 2nd Mepo guy I’ve done one of these for… crazy, eh?
Kyle and I go way back… not sure if he knows this, but our moms were best friends in high school. They were cheerleaders together. Both his mom and my mom ended up marrying guys who wrestled and when both these couples had sons, they wrestled. And they all wrestled for Mepo… Kyle was in an era that was right between my brother Justin and I (‘01 and ‘03) and my brothers Shea and Brennan (‘16 and 18). I don’t know how to put this lightly, for I don’t want this to come off as disrespectful to anyone who wrestled at Mepo during the era Kyle was in HS, but Mepo had a few years where… well, we were a bit down compared to what we were used to. And we weren’t a bad team at all. Won 60-75% of our dual meets… we just didn’t have a lot of high placers and what-not compared to other years. Mediapolis has been a pretty consistent wrestling program and we’ve been spoiled. Kyle along with guys like Noah Robb, Elliott Jansen, Marcus Marshall, Brady Broders, Jordan Cary and I’m certain that I am leaving some obvious ones out, was a bright spot in this little “drought” that Mepo had. He was taking such huge strides as a Junior and Senior, if he would have had another year or two, who knows what he would have done. He didn’t have the luxury of having experience on his side for he started late, but he surely had the athleticism, the necessary attitude to succeed and the great familial support. His Senior year, he beat a couple guys at state that were really, really good. As a guy who remembered when he was born for I was raised hearing stories of our moms hanging out, I was very happy for him. It was cool to watch unravel, not only for Kyle and Mepo wrestling, but his entire family is great. It’s nice seeing cool things like that happen to good people like the Baker family.
And you’ll notice that Kyle doesn’t like to make excuses for himself… but I like to do that… And if I were Kyle, “not wanting to make excuses for myself” would be my excuse for not saying that I truly felt that I would have been a state champ if I would have started a few years earlier. But that’s me…if I were Kyle! Yeah, he would have been a world-beater if he started as a kid.
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
Mostly my dad. Coach Cummings also encouraged me to go out in middle school and high school.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
David Baker (dad), Corey Baker (2nd cousin, state qualifier), and Joel Baker (2nd cousin, 4th and 3rd at state, also wrestled at Simpson), Will Baker (2nd cousin).
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
I only wrestled in two tournaments when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. I think I got 2nd in both. In middle school I qualified for kid’s state but didn’t place
What was your record in HS?
How did you place at state every year?
I qualified for state at 152 junior and senior year. My senior year I placed 8th
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
I would say the biggest adverse challenge for me was not going out for wrestling until my 8th grade year. A lot of the kids I competed with had been wrestling since they were wrestling pee wee. So experience-wise, I was generally always behind the eight ball. I guess I never let it bug me because I don’t really believed in excuses.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
On my feet, I liked to wrestle at a high pace with constant movement. I avoided tying up ear-to-ear if possible. I liked to keep heavy hands on the head and utilizing Russian ties, under-hook-high-crotch double, low singles, and throw bys. As far as pinning combinations go, I would say I used mostly arm bars and cradles.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
Marcus Miller and I wrestled five times my senior year, my record was 3-2 against him
Who was your most influential coach?
It’s hard to pick just one. Shawn Timmerman coached me since middle school. Joel Baker always pushed me by live wrestling with me. Dan and Brandon Cummings taught me a lot of technique. Mike Vantiger broke down film on opponents throughout the season.
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
We had a pretty decent team my senior year. I think our dual meet record was 12 – 4.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
My list for “local wrestlers” would be Micah Keller, Seth Pugh, and Brad Lower. They were all tough nosed kids with all very different wrestling styles.
Trent Paulson, Cael Sanderson, Brent Metcalf, and Mark Perry would be my college list of influential wrestlers.
What is the furthest you can remember back about Mepo wrestling?
The earliest I can remember would be going to a meet in 2003. Damien Getchell and Spencer Manning are a few guys I remember on that team.
Were you ever able to beat Coach Cummings in Pickleball?
He was scared to play me in pickle ball.
Editor’s Note: HAHAHAHA, that is THE perfect response! 😂😂😂
How fun was it watching Mepo on this run they went on a few years ago?
A lot of fun. When I would tell people I came from Mediapolis, it would always follow with a “Oh Mediapolis? They have a tough wrestling program!”
Mediapolis…a football school, a volleyball school, a girls basketball school or a wrestling school… if you had to pick one, which would it be?
Currently? A football school
Formerly? A wrestling school
Way formerly? A girls basketball school
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
A little biased here since I am an assistant coach but freshman 106 lber Drew Robinson from Nevada high school. First Nevada state qualifier in 9 years.
Griffin Molle from Notre Dame is a lot of fun to watch, as well as the Lopez boys from New London.
What tunes would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
Practice tunes always consisted of hard rock. Breaking Benjamin, Seether, Buckcherry, Crossfade, Theory of a Deadman, Staind, etc.
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
I would say losing the last match of my career 5-7 to a kid from Denver-Tripoli. I had a fisher pin locked up in the final minute which would have won the match via pin or back points. The referee stopped the match and called potentially dangerous as I was turning him. It didn’t sink in until a while after the match that my last high school match would be a loss. I don’t know, I may have shed a tear or two.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
The only thing I would change is I should’ve went out for wrestling in 7th grade.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
Besides medaling at state, I would say winning the conference, sectionals, and district tournaments senior year. I remember we beat Columbus Junction my senior year in a dual meet. Pretty sure it was the first time in like 5 or 6 years since we’d beaten them. They always had tough teams back in the day.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
Freshman year I got whooped up on by Seth Pugh a couple of times. Sophmore year I wrestled Johnny Siegel. Probably a lot I’m forgetting.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
I always did a couple camps and at least one tournament. I went out for other sports so I would say it was semi-all-year-around.
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
I think kids from today are a lot faster and more athletic.
I feel the guys from my day took a little more pride in being in the best shape/condition possible in case the match went the distance.
Did you wrestle after high school?
No, a little bit of club wrestling at ISU.
What other sports did you play?
Football, Baseball, Track
What are your favorite sports teams?
Iowa State Cyclones, New York Yankees, Green Bay Packers
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
Fishing, hunting with my wife and dogs, farming with my family
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
Wrestling has taught me that life isn’t always peaches and cream. Adversity is around every corner, every day. How you choose to handle adversity, ultimately defines your character.
What do you do now?
I am a sales agronomist for Key Cooperative in Zearing, Iowa
Are you still involved with wrestling?
I am a volunteer assistant coach for Nevada High School
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
It might be sound cliché but it’s very true: perfect the fundamentals. Go out for multiple sports.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
If it were in the South East Iowa area, maybe?
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
All of the Nevada Cub wrestlers I’ve coached. Holden Fry, Camden Vincent, Caden Jones, Theo Skelton, Luis Lopez, Edgar Cabrera, Dominick Garcia, Drew Robinson, Zach Stinn, Zach Martinez, Nate Anderson, Nick Lauritzen, Luke Schmitz, Sam Steele. Keep to the grindstone and great things will come!
Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.
Favorite/funniest memory during wrestling was Noah Robb (his sophomore year, my freshman year) and his ability to always miraculously make weight, no matter how much he was over. Coach Cummings was always losing his mind Monday before/after practice when he would see Robb’s weight. One particular story I remember: Noah was wrestling 103 and he came in to weigh on a Monday morning. Noah weighted like 122 lbs and all I can remember Cummings saying is something along the lines of, “God D@*#t Robb if you don’t make weight this week, I’m going to cut your ______ off! (To keep this PG-13, I’ll let your imagination guess what the five letter, plural noun was).