Baylor’s next target? A state medal

After an injury cut her wrestling season short as a freshman, Humboldt sophomore Taevyn Baylor vowed to stay healthy this time around. She has, and has been rewarded with a state wrestling bid — and has been selected the Register's female athlete of the month.

By

Sports

February 16, 2024 - 3:21 PM

Humboldt High's Taevyn Baylor, top, is the Iola Register's Female Athlete of the Month. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

HUMBOLDT —Taevyn Baylor was afraid, if ever so briefly, that history was repeating itself.

Baylor was in the midst of her Class 4-1A Regional Wrestling Semifinal against Girard’s Kaylen McAteee Saturday.

The winner would earn a championship match berth, and a bid for the upcoming state tournament in Salina.

McAtee, the third-ranked 155-pound girls wrestler in the state, slammed Baylor to the mat midway through the first period, leaving Baylor dazed, enough that the referee halted the action to ensure Baylor could continue.

Within seconds, it was apparent Baylor was fine, and the ref allowed the action to continue.

And while she wound up losing the match to McAtee — “I’ve never seen somebody with as much knowledge as she had,” Baylor said — the Humboldt sophomore’s hopes for a state tournament berth were still alive.

That was the only opening Baylor needed. She pinned her final two opponents of the day to secure third place in her weight class, and a trip to Salina next week.

The state bid coincides with Baylor’s selection in an online vote as the Iola Register’s Female Athlete of the Month.

“I went into regionals knowing I was going to give it my all, and try to not get hurt this year,” Baylor said with a smile.

As a freshman, Baylor’s season was derailed with a concussion suffered during the league meet, thus denying her the opportunity to wrestle at regionals.

“It really pushed me to do better this year,” she said.

Now, she’s allowed to refocus her goals. She hopes to earn a state medal, or at the least, win enough matches to last until the second day of the two-day tournament.

Baylor, an avid softball player, has a family connection to wrestling. 

Her uncle, Curtis Baylor, was a state champion grappler from Columbus.

“Somebody told me I should try the wrestling team last year,” Baylor said. “So I signed up and found out I love it.”

The biggest challenge often comes with finding sparring partners.

“None of my teammates are close to my weight,” she chuckled.

So she often practices with her male teammates.

“I think it’s helped me become a better wrestler,” Baylor said. “There’s a big difference with guys. They’re bigger and stronger, and know alot more.”

BAYLOR is quick to praise her head coach, Kent Goodner, for his instruction and inspiration.

“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” she gushed.

And Baylor was equally thrilled — if not more so — that teammate Savannah Koch also qualified for state in her weight division.

Koch qualified by placing fourth in the 235-pound weight class.

“She’s not as confident as I am out there, so I was really excited to see her do well,” Baylor explained.

It’s part of Humboldt’s kinship among the school’s burgeoning girls squad. There are eight sophomores and freshmen on this year’s team, leading Goodner to predict that next year’s team will be even better.

Related
February 23, 2024
February 12, 2024
February 6, 2024
January 8, 2024