By JARED BELL
Brady Wilsie and Nolan Baker didn’t want to hear about it.
They didn’t even want to think about it.
However, as the wins came this season and the losses never did, the senior teammates on the Byron wrestling team matched each other win-for-win and carried undefeated records into the IHSA State Wrestling Tournament.
And that made other people talk.
“Being undefeated was just something along the way,” Wilsie said. “We never really gave it too much thought.”
Both Tiger wrestlers completed the feat as each won a Class 1A state title and finished the season with matching, perfect 44-0 records.
“You try not to think about it in the moment,” Baker said, “but now, at the end of the season, you sit back and think, ‘Yeah, we just did that. And it’s awesome.’”
After Wilsie won a state title at 106 pounds as a sophomore in 2014, he beat Freeburg senior Cooper Secker on Saturday by pin fall at 4:34, while Baker won the 1A 132-pound state title with an 11-3 major decision over PORTA senior Trey Hild.
“We’ve been practice partners since I started wrestling in the first or second grade,” Wilsie said. “We came up together and to now be state champions together is amazing.”
It’s only fitting the senior pair did it together.
In addition to wrestling together since they were young, the Tiger tandem has been practice partners and have helped each other get better and better over the past four years.
“I think my wrestling technique works off of his,” Wilsie said. “We always push each other to the limits, for sure.”
It turned both into state champions.
“Day in and day out, we’ve been workout partners, so to be able to share each other’s success is awesome,” Baker said. “Obviously, we are each the ones who get the job done, but we help each other. Brady helped me every day and I helped him every day. If one of us would’ve lost it would not have been as sweet. I’m lucky to have a workout partner like him.”
Wilsie pinned his way to the 126-pound state title, but Saturday’s championship wasn’t without excitement as he was taken to his back in the first few seconds of the match. He worked off his back but trailed 4-0.
However, the senior fought back to tie the match, took the lead and found the state-winning fall to complete the undefeated season.
“I knew that if I just wrestled my match that it would come,” Wilsie said. “I know that my moves work and that I just needed to stay focused and not let it get to me, and I didn’t.”
Baker, who had three pins to reach the title match, rolled in his final to pick up the major decision to complete the Byron sweep.
“I think both of us would’ve been successful even if we didn’t have each other,” Baker said, “but I am definitely a better wrestler than I would be if Brady wasn’t in there in the room with me. We just feed off each other’s skill and experience.”
The state title was extra special for Baker as it was the third state title in five years for his family after his older brother, Nolan, was a state champion in 2012 and 2014.
Their father Bob also coached Byron to the 1995 Class A dual team state title and a second-place team finish in 1998.
“My dad really instilled in me a great sense of tradition in Byron wrestling,” Baker said. “It’s really cool to be able to get this for him.”
Now that both Wilsie and Baker have completed their undefeated seasons, both can look back at just how amazing it is for a pair of teammates to go undefeated and finish a combined 88-0.
“It’s awesome and really unlikely,” Baker said, “but I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”
Jared Bell can be reached at (815) 220-6938. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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