Baxter qualifies for Nationals again [Wrestling]

February 27, 2012

Dustin Baxter

He didn’t win a regional title like he wanted, but Saint John’s senior Dustin Baxter of Fairbanks settled for a pretty cool consolation prize.

He’s going back to Nationals.

Baxter, of West Valley fame, became the ninth wrestler in school history to earn four national tournament appearances after winning third place at the NCAA D3 Great Lakes Regional in Minneapolis.

“What’s important is that I qualified for nationals,” Baxter told me. “I am disappointed that I didn’t win regionals but winning nationals is still the goal.”

Baxter is 27-2 overall and ranked No. 2 nationally at 197 pounds.

He won his first match via pin and missed a major decision by one point (10-3) in the quarterfinals. He lost the semifinal bout 5-3 in 2OT to Darren Faber of Wheaton (Ill.), a JUCO transfer and NJCAA All-American.

The loss was the first for Baxter to a D3 wrestler this season. Baxter bounced back with a pin and a 5-3 decision over Concordia-Moorhead’s Nathan Schmitz to claim third.

“The match I lost I didn’t ride on top well, which makes a big difference and I need to work on and do better,” he said. “I was pissed at the loss.

“As always my defense was good but in the 10th minute of the match I lost my conditioning faltered a little which will be a focus along with riding next week.”

The NCAA D3 Championships are March 9-10 in La Crosse, Wis.