WADSWORTH — Luke Baughman had his pick of the litter when it came to wrestling at the college level.
When it came down to it, the Wadsworth senior kept coming back to one thing and, as a result, Indiana will obtain his services next fall.
The three-time state qualifier had it down to Pitt, West Virginia and the Hoosiers, but honing his skills in the Big Ten was the attraction.
A competitor who never ducks competition, Baughman (138 pounds) is ready to see just how good he can be against the best of the best in a conference known for success.
“It’s exciting,” said Baughman, who has a 3.4 grade-point average and plans to major in business. “Every single match is going to be a grind. It’s going to be fun. There are lots of tough guys in every single match. There won’t be any breaks.”
With 2008 national champion, three-time Big Ten titlist and Indiana’s only four-time All-American, Angel Escobedo, leading the way in his first season as coach — and four-time All-American and 2016 national runner-up Isaac Jordan as an assistant — the opportunity to grow is there for Baughman, who will wrestle at 149 pounds.
Last season, Indiana sent Cole Weaver and Elijah Weaver to nationals in Cleveland.
“It’s an awesome coaching staff,” Baughman said. “They’re young and hungry to turn the program around.”
When Baughman gets to Bloomington, Tristan Sellmer, Fernando Silva and Davy Tunon likely will be in the same weight class.
The trio won’t care that Baughman was a 2018 state runner-up, two-time state placer, three-time All-Gazette selection and Ironman placer who had 115 career wins before his senior season.
“You have to earn your stripes,” Baughman said. “It’s going to be fun, but lots of hard work is going to be needed to be put in. Hopefully I can get that spot so I can wrestle against Penn State and Ohio State every year.”
Competing in a room like the one at Wadsworth, Baughman might have a leg up on the rest of his teammates because he’s faced top-flight competition his entire life.
“I’m a hard worker,” he said. “I’m going to go into practice every day trying to get better. They have it set up pretty well where it’s going to be easy for me to succeed.
“It’s going to be a lot different. Every workout partner is going to be a state champ or a state placer. Everyone is going to be good. There’s no breaks. Everyone is going to hold everyone else accountable. Everyone is going to be getting better every single day.”