PEARCY -- Lake Hamilton High School senior Hunter Baber put pen to paper Wednesday at Wolf Arena, signing his letter of intent to wrestle at Ouachita Baptist University this fall.
Baber, who plans on studying kinesiology, said he is very excited about continuing his wrestling career as a Tiger.
"Visiting the campus and the coaches there, and even the current wrestlers, they were all really nice," he said. "And then just the nice facilities... it looked like a place I wanted to go to."
Baber said he loves the physicality of wrestling, noting "you get to step on the mat and see who's better. The coaches don't get to pick who starts either. It's whoever wins the wrestling match... And then it's just whoever's more physical and who can perfect their craft the best to see who wins."
Video not playing? Click here https://www.youtube.com/embed/Xb0M2GKSd-Q
Lake Hamilton head wrestling coach Austin Weldon described the day for Baber as a celebration of a journey filled with "dedication, perseverance, and talent." He said it not only marks a combination of Baber's years of hard work, but also the beginning of a new chapter.
"I know for Hunter, this path to get here today has not been easy. He has faced adversity head on, battled with injuries, and much more than the everyday person doesn't get a chance to see. From the early morning practices, to the late night studies, he has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to his craft," he said.
Noting what sets Baber apart, Weldon said it is not only the physicality aspect, but more importantly his character, leadership, and the ability to inspire others around him.
"He has served as a role model, a mentor to his teammates, and an ambassador for the sport," he said.
Baber has wrestled five years at Lake Hamilton, winning multiple matches and tournaments. According the school's records, he has 48 wins and only 12 losses. This year alone, he is 16-4. While he has earned All-Conference honors in the past, Weldon said this year he expects him to be All-Conference and All-State, as well as hopefully bring home a state championship trophy.
Baber said the support he received from his family, friends and coaches has helped him get to where he is now.
"It's helped me tremendously. Coach Weldon, being the head coach here, he's coached me since I was little in like sixth and seventh grade. And he's great. He wrestled at OBU too. And all the other coaches, (John) Utley, and (John) Gardner, they helped a lot too," he said.
Weldon said Baber's signing represents a moment for gratitude as well as celebration.
"Gratitude for the coaches who have helped guide him, the teammates who have supported him, and the parents who have stood by him, by his side, through it all. Each person in Hunter's life has played a crucial role in shaping who he is today. I have no doubt the best is yet to come," he said.