Byron native and NIU wrestler Nolan Baker will represent this part of the world in Romania in November at the Greco World Championships.
As a senior at Byron, Baker finished off his career as an Illinois state champion. Now, as a rising sophomore at NIU, he won gold this summer in his weight class at the Greco World Team Trials, an unexpected outcome by his account.
"[I was] unseeded in the tournament," Baker said. "I had to wrestle people that got second, third, and fourth. We came in there and in five hours, I was the national champ and a world team member. It was crazy."
Greco is a very different wrestling technique compared to folkstyle in the United States.
"You can only use your upper body," Baker explains about Greco. "If you touch your legs, touch your opponents' legs or use your opponents' legs in any way, it's illegal and if you do it twice, the match is over."
Baker will compete at the World Championships in Romania this fall. He'll train at NIU until then, and whatever happens next, he's ready for all outcomes.
"Whether it's folkstyle or Greco, I love throwing people," Baker says. "Greco is the style they promote. I'm excited to go and see how I compete on the world stage. Whether I win or lose, I'll go out swinging. I take peace of mind in that."
The Tiger turned Huskie turned international competitor will have a lot of supporters back home, cheering him on.
"Alpha Wrestling, Byron Wrestling, Extreme Wrestling, NIU Wrestling, I wouldn't even have the tools to be where I'm at right now," Baker said. "I'd want to be where I'm at right now, but wouldn't know how to get there."
Well, Nolan Baker is there now, winning gold here at home, and going for more, abroad.