Pine-Richland grad Hunter Baxter ascends to starting spot at Maryland
After two years of paying his dues, Pine-Richland product Hunter Baxter has earned his spot as the top 141-pound wrestler in Maryland’s starting lineup.
The redshirt sophomore already has accomplished plenty in his 21⁄2 years as a Terrapin — winning Academic All-Big Ten honors and earned the team’s freshman of the year — but now that he’s a starter, he said it’s time to step up.
“It felt really good (being named a starter), to be honest,” Baxter said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to wrestle in college. It was a huge step to earn a spot here initially, but it’s just the nature of the beast to want more.
“I’ve wanted to start. I set my mind to starting. I have some goals that I would like to reach, and I can’t do that unless I’m starting.”
Baxter said his goals are to qualify for the national tournament, earn some wins at the Big Ten championships and take down a few big names along the way. Considering how he left Pine-Richland — as the program’s single-season leader in wins (39), career wins (146), and as a four-time state qualifier and two-time WPIAL runner-up — those might be realistic.
Baxter is 1-1 record this season for the Terrapins (1-1). Once the Big Ten schedule kicks in, the competition is sure to crank up.
“I spent all offseason dedicated to the basics. I continued lifting, working out. I watched my diet and ate healthy,” Baxter said.
“In terms of wrestling, I got better with my bottom positioning because everyone in college is good at wrestling from on top. I want to be able to get out from on bottom. About 75% of my work was spent in neutral. I want to get on top in my matches, but I can’t get there unless I take someone down so I worked on a lot of hand-fighting. I spent my time working on the parts of my game that will allow me to get to into the space I want to be in against my opponents.”
He also spent plenty of time sparring with teammate and classmate Garrett Burnham, another former Ram. Burnham is wrestling at 149 pounds and is poised to return from an early-season injury.
Kevin Lohman is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.