It's been a high school career of ups and downs for Camanche senior grappler Baylor Crigger, but he's hoping to end it on a high note.
Crigger is one of the Indians' most powerful athletes on the mat, proving it year in and year out. As a senior, he has just one loss on the season and is keeping his eyes on state.
The 160-pounder learned a lot from his first three years as an Indian. Some lessons hit harder than others.
His freshman year he made it to the wrestleback at districts and fell short, just missing a state berth. Sophomore year proved to be purely unlucky, with appendicitis striking just before the postseason.
That left him with a lot of determination going into his junior season but even that proved costly. He injured his collarbone during the season and didn't tell anyone and dealt with a nagging knee injury from football. He made it to state but didn't perform the way he was anticipating.
"I want to stay healthy," Crigger asserted. "It's my senior year, I need to be smarter. One last chance, I'm playing it smart."
And he seems right on schedule. He has just one loss so far this season, and it's one that he said he's not necessarily mad about.
"I'm glad I got that under my belt," Crigger said about the loss. "Having that one loss lets me learn a little bit about what I have to fix up. It releases a little pressure."
After the problems last season, he's keeping it pretty simple this year. He's just focusing on each opponent across from him.
"Last year I was kind of set to win state," Crigger said. "I just have to worry about one match at a time."
If you've had the chance to talk to Baylor Crigger, his overwhelming positivity would probably be what you noticed first. You would have never guessed he had gone through any adversity throughout his wildly successful wrestling career.
Instead, he walks confidently into the circle each round and dominates in a quiet fashion. Head coach Brent Carstensen has a phrase for it.
"He has a calm aggression," Carstensen said.
Crigger is definitely the athlete Carstensen wants as a senior leader with a fairly young varsity team.
"He's an excellent kid, hard worker, good leader," Carstensen said. "Not only is he driving himself to have a good season but he's setting an example in the room to carry on with the rest of our young team."
Speaking of the Indians, they're having an excellent season all-around. Several athletes have appeared in the Class 1A state rankings, including Crigger at No. 5 and freshman Eric Kinkaid at No. 7 at 126 in the latest polls.
"It's gone amazing," Crigger said. "My team, that's what I'm most proud about right now."
"I love this team. We're a lot younger and these kids are learning ... They're goofy but they're doing great things."
Crigger also stated repeatedly that getting closer to his team was his favorite part of the season so far, although he's learned so many lessons along the way.
"A lot of up and downs, but I wouldn't change it for anything in the world," Crigger said about his career. "A long ride, but it's been fun."